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Dreadful Nonsense

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

I am never going to quite get the hang of this flying thing. It’s officially decided. I’m making myself a certificate of failure that will clearly state that I’m never going to get used to it, and that by now I should have learned not to even bother trying. Flying is a very erratic undertaking, and the more I do it, the weirder the flights get.

On Thursday night, I checked in at the Ryan Air desk, where the desk attendant barely raised herself out of a coma and dribbled all over my passport, such was her disinterest in checking me in. I told her that Saddam Hussein had packed my bag for me, and that when I nipped to the toilet I’d asked the IRA to keep an eye on it, but she didn’t seem to care. The boy in front of me took ages to check in, giving me ample time to stare directly at the fascinating scar he had across the entirety of the left hand side of his face. I love staring at scars. Love them. I’ve a fascination with them, and the stories that go with them – the gorier the better. I fixated on this boy’s scar, because other than that, he was very ordinary looking – think the lead singer of Keane, but with a normal sized head.

When we got to the gate, it was announced that our flight would be delayed by about 5 minutes. This, in Ryan Air speak, means there’s a chance the whole thing might be cancelled, but no one seemed to realise, and they all queued up like sheep around the barriers. The longer the delay lasted, the more of the passengers joined the end of the queue, until eventually there was only me and the boy left sitting. Finally, about 40 minutes after our original proposed take off time, we were allowed on to the plane. I was at this stage fairly stoned on the old prescription drugs, having made the mistake of not waiting for the announcement of delay before taking them. I therefore didn’t give one darn about the queuing system, and floated up to the middle of the queue, where everyone very politely didn’t complain. The boy did exactly the same thing, only further up the queue. Round of applause to the boy.

When I boarded, I noted that although almost all the seats were taken and it was a total pain in the bum trying to fight up the aisle to the last remaining ones, people were avoiding the seat beside the boy. I’m assuming this was due to his scarring. People are mean, and also wrong. So I sat beside the boy, and began my pre-take off preparations, which are mainly putting my coat over my head and begging the lord for dear mercy. While going about this, I noticed that the boy seemed to be mumbling too. And rocking forward and backward. And looking very very scared.

The boy was more frightened of flying than I was. This boy was the most terrified person I’ve ever seen on a plane. And I’ve seen me.

It was brilliant. I finally got an insight on what it must be like to sit beside me while flying. He didn’t stop clutching things once, and had only two seated positions the entire flight – sitting with his head right back on the headrest, staring up at the ceiling of the plane, or sitting curled forward, with his forehead resting on the seat in front of him, all the while clutching things – anything.

I was fascinated for the duration. And clean forgot to be freaked out myself. I need that boy as a flying companion from now on. He seems to inhale the fear from all around him and take it upon himself, like the man in The Green Mile, only not retarded.

Huge applause to the boy.


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