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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

It's genuinely difficult to remember quite how freaked out I used to be about flying. Well, it would be difficult, but I've charted my hysteria quite comprehensively here over the last few years, so a quick glimpse through the archives can refresh the memory. It's good to tell the internet all about your phobias, fears, hysterics, irrational and occasional murderous thoughts. The internet doesn't judge. The internet doesn't case aspersions. That's because the internet neither listens nor cares.

But flying, like anything you end up doing on a regular basis, becomes quite mundane and unremarkable, if done properly. I've got checking in down to a tee - I now echo the check-in girls' bored tone of voice as they ask me with their carefully prepared questions whether I'm an international terrorist or drug smuggler, or rich enough to have someone else pack my bags for me. The beeper machine always beeps when I go through, due to the cheap metal featured in the range of belts I wear these days, and I look forward to being frisked by the angry looking short haired ladies at security. It's more bracing than a large cup of coffee.

I've got the hanging about the airport looking bored thing down pat too - I wander through the shops with the thought of "if the plane does actually crash this time I won't have to pay for my credit card, so I might as well put this wildly expensive face cream, obviously made from the crushed bones of saints and the tear drops of unicorns, on to the plastic". Then I have that massive cup of coffee I've been promising myself since the short haired lady finished the frisking, and then it's time to walk the 10 miles to the gate in every airport that all Irish flights must go from.

I can even now board a plane looking quite casual and off-hand. I know which flight attendants will want to see my passport, and who won't frankly care. I can also see which passengers are going to make a big hairy mess out of picking seats and producing boarding cards, and try to avoid being stuck behind them. I've yet to master the avoidance of the screaming child - they seem to be magnetically attracted to my choice of seating - but that's the final hurdle for me, I think.

Although, actually, not quite. Last flight, you'll remember, I promised myself that I'd try it without the valium, due to the feeling that if I chanced a sedative on Thursday I'd probably only be waking up around Tuesday feeling groggy and wondering where the weekend went. Weekend visits go by so horrendously quickly anyway, it's an advantage to do anything I can to try to stretch them out a bit (and other than listening to He Who Only...'s stories about when he was a secret agent veterinary surgeon in Russia during the Cold War, nothing can put me to sleep quicker). But, dear reader, I'm sure you'll share my disappointment but also my sense of inevitable failure when I admit that I've yet to fly sober.

Thing is, you see. If you had some lovely shiny yellow tablets, little balls of sunshine that glimmer out of a pill bottle and bring all sorts of fancy day dreams and relaxed breathing and a general wonder at colours and sounds and music, you'd take them lots and lots too. And if you're like me, and feel you need a reason to enjoy this kind of thing, you'd take them every given opportunity you had, rather than squandering them only when you're in immense pain and the side effects just don't happen. Thursday's flight was truly brill, because for the first time I chose to sit by a window, and I discovered that when we were above the clouds at night, you could still see the clouds, this time from the other side. Because the moon. Was huge. And glimmering. And casting pretty shadows across the top side of the clouds, the side that looks like you could lie down and wrap yourself in them and be as warm and snuggly as a duvet. I stared out that window, ladies and gents. I drooled on that window. I carried on looking for a good 25 minutes because, you see, I was STONED OFF MY FACE.

Flying is fun. Being stoned, legally or illegally is fun (Kids - Just Say No). Being stoned and flying in the bright, bright moonlight while staring uninterrupted at clouds for almost half an hour is brilliant fun.


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