IT’S ALL UP IN THE AIR-FLYING IN THE 21ST CENTURY

ImageAir travel. For those not fortunate enough to turn left at the cabin door, it is often the bane of our existences. A form of finely honed, teeth grating torment that sits somewhere between the Spanish Inquisition and a Jedward mega mix in the human torture stakes.

Everything about it seems designed to dehumanise; the seats are usually the width of an anorexic chocolate bourbon, and certainly no larger than the average pygmy’s postage stamp. The amount of legroom would often leave even the smallest of Snow White’s best friends in a series of agonised, pitiful contortions.

If you have my luck, you will invariably find yourself bracketed by families with young children. Before each such take off, I tell myself that not all children really are satanic, snot sucking little savages of the highest order. I should resist chanelling my inner Victor Meldrew, and stop being so damned judgemental. Hey, wasn’t I a kid once?

And then the kicks start coming to the back of the chair, landing like artillery shells on the first day of the Somme. I grit my teeth and curse under my breath in a tidal wave of devoutly unpleasant expletives, only to be outdone for real- and in all too vocal tones- by the drunken, cackling coven of Vicky Pollard look-a-likes returning from their highly styled ‘girls weekend’ away. Oh dear. Madam has clearly over indulged on the pre- departure Lambrini, mais non?

The other person I dread being in proximity to is what I call the professional fidgeter. You can bet your bottom dollar that they will want to be out of the seat next to you the first moment that you get comfortable. Off they go to the bathroom. OK….. Then, two minutes after getting settled back in, they remember that there’s something they need out of their overhead carry on, up in the locker. Above your head. And then, of course, they will need to put it back. Repeat as necessary.

So, instead of chilling out with a nice, cool drink and some decent music on tap, you instead find yourself up and down with the depressing regularity of a hooker’s drawers at the start of Fleet Week. Sleep? No chance, sunshine. And when the demonic hell spawn in the seat behind you drops  his thirteenth toy soldier over the top, and into your drink- again- you begin to dimly comprehend that the Gods really were telling you not to travel today.

Some light relief comes in the form of on board sustenance. The food tumbril rattles down the aisle like an asthmatic Dalek on crack. Chicken or Pasta?

By the time your knees have been battered by this calamitous, clattering cart, you can bet that your choice of food will no longer be available. The protocol droid in charge of said tumbril makes it clear that you must like it or lump it. As you contemplate the mangled remains of your shins, you might consider the notion that ‘lump’ seems to be the theme of this flight.

The coffee alone tastes only marginally more attractive than the fuel powering you to wherever. And it has a remarkably similar black, goo like consistency. The food has all the heightened, inspired taste of an Atomic Kitten reunion concert. That thing that you think is cheese- the one with the illegible lettering in seventh century Cyrillic- it’s actually butter. The sugar? It’s always woefully insufficient to put even the ghost of some sweetness into that industrial strength bilge that masquerades as coffee.

The bread rolls are harder than a battleship’s armour, and much less likely to yield to the assault of a plastic knife that is about as much use as a Swiss aircraft carrier. The tray in front of you- and it’s just as often on you- is covered with more debris than the streets of Berlin in 1945. Needless to say, this is the exact time that useless of seat next to you decides that he/she/it really does need the bathroom again. Sorry…

And those bathrooms. Gawd. Talk about weapons of mass destruction. I shudder to think of some of the god awful chemical concoctions that could be bred in these after a few hours of in flight use. It sure as hell puts a whole new definition on chemical warfare.

OK. Stop. Time out. Just to let you know that this review was written by ‘bad’ Anthony. There will soon be another, more considered piece on the ups and downs of air travel from ‘good’ Anthony.

Just as soon as he gets some sleep, eats something decent, and slowly- slowly- loses the urge to stop howling uncontrollably at the Moon…

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