Why me? Why always me? I have one big phobia in life, one, flying, and the fear is real, palpable and manifests in increasing bouts of panic accompanied by moments of insanity. I once, midway across the Atlantic shouted (loudly) does anybody else smell smoke. That's how scared I am of flying, it induces madness.
The fear however is inversely proportional to the size of the plane, the bigger it is the better I feel. I'm not sure why I think it's something to do with suspension of reality. In a really really big plane I can sit in the middle, far from the windows and pretend none of this is happening. They also have sections so you can only see a select few people, which looks much more reassuring than a whole plane full of expectant holiday makers preparing to meet their doom.
So it was looking dodgy before I even boarded flight 1844 to Majorca. For a start it was a prop plane. A prop plane! I swear they follow me around the country, in fact there may just be one, old prop plane in service that the powers above pull out just for me whenever I book a holiday. Prop planes shudder and shake and (most frighteningly) display far too much of their inner workings than I care to see. One is never completely reassured when the brightest minds in aeronautical engineering decide that two ceiling fans are just what's needed to keep this plane on the correct trajectory.
At least when the fans are hidden you can kid yourself that chains and cogs and other man made stuff are not responsible for keeping the plane up. Instead a host of fairies and heavenly bodies are beating their wings furiously (but most importantly magically), and holding the vehicle aloft in flight. No relying on Barry The Engineer coming to work with a hangover and servicing my plane with half an eye on a chip buttie, oh no, angels and fairies are responsible for my flight, and they don't make mistakes (or drink).
So I got on the plane with a huge sense of foreboding, sat down and clutched the arm rests looking all around me like some scary eyed lemming. The captain came over the tannoy welcoming us to flight 1844 and wishing us well, which was good, he sounded optimistic and soothed my nerves a little. I mean if the captain thinks we've got a chance of making it then we may well do, excellent.
But then he made his fatal error, one that removed any thought that he may be able to make an accurate prediction as to our survival chances. He made a joke.
Noooooooooooo. Husband shifted uncomfortably in his seat, he knew, he knew. I did not, under any circumstances want a Captain who would rather be a comedian. Forget aspirations of fame and fortune and trying out your material on your passengers. I mean focus on the job man. The important one of steering the plane to Spain. I mean, we wouldn't even be a good measure of the joke's success anyway would we? We were bound to laugh, he was the only one who knew how to fly the plane.
I didn't want some jolly sounding captain who delivered the weather report in a jocular fashion. I wanted a serious captain, one who delivered the weather report with a deep voice, slightly strained from the years at Cambridge studying the finer points of plane flying. One who had emerged after ten years graft, blinking in the sun clutching a first class honours in Averting Disaster, and a special interest thesis in Keeping The Little Seatbelt Light On To Stop Passengers Getting Up And Possibly Rocking The Plane. But no, instead we got Ko Ko the Kaptin, who probably steers the plane with his knees while working on material for his next gig. Whoop di do.
So it was up to me, I had to be the eyes and ears of the plane. The pilot wasn't up to it obviously, he was jocular with unfulfilled dreams. It was me or my maker, and I wasn't ready for that yet. I dutifully reported every rattle, every air pocket and every hum to the air stewards, I checked the wings every two minutes for signs of leakage, fire or falling offness and reported back solemnly. I was a help I tell you, a help, take that Ko Ko, ha!
I'm not sure about what happened next it all went a bit hazy, because this was the point at which the free wine started arriving, as much as I liked smiled the air steward, did he know how much that would be? Apparently they'd never done this before, but they were making a special allowance just for little old me. Probably as a thankyou for all my hard work or something.
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