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Dreadful Nonsense

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

“plunge” and “death” and “screaming” and "crash" and "fire" and "bomb" and “disaster”

We are sitting on the plane and my coat is over my head. My legs are crossed under me, as tightly as possible so as not to fall off the edge of the tiny plane seat, and my nose is tucked into the sleeve of the coat so I don’t suffocate. My iPod, on shuffle, keeps finding songs with the words “plunge” and “death” and “screaming” and "crash" and "fire" and "bomb" and “disaster” in them. My left hand is closed tightly around his right hand. I am not crying.

I hate flying so much that I have turned a corner in the level of fear that I feel. I used to be so frightened that I would feel incredibly nauseous, nausea to the point of passing out and/or losing control of my bladder. I would convince myself I was about to faint. I would cry silently, weeping tears that I was completely incapable of holding in. And then, about 10 minutes into the flight the fear would dissolve into a kind of agonising boredom; bored of the flight and bored of the fear itself; bored of the occasional turbulence; bored of being strapped into a seat and having the face the same direction as everyone else. Bored of my music and books and magazines and surroundings; bored enough to pass out, which I quite often did, thanks to the amount of valium in my system.

Now on a plane I feel angry. So angry I have started shaking with the rage, physically shuddering – not like when you shake because you’re cold or frightened, not that gentle shaking that happens when standing waiting for a bus in the snow, but rather the kind of shaking you do when you’ve just had to leave the room because if you didn’t you know you were going to smash a plate or punch someone in the face, or smash a plate in someone's face. So angry I want to start kicking the chair of the person in front, or punching at the plane windows, or getting hold of something sharp and stabling it into my own arm.

I channel this extreme rage by inferring rudeness in any dealing I have with anyone at any point in the preceding couple of hours before the flight – basically, from the moment we are heading towards the airport. Cars are cutting us up; strangers are giving me dirty looks; someone doesn’t hand me my change properly; the guy at the check in desk didn’t actually say anything wrong, but I could tell from his tone of voice; those people standing behind us in the check-in queue are pushing their luggage into my personal space; the announcements are unnecessarily useless; everyone is skipping the queue; those same people standing behind us in the queue for the plane are pushing their hand luggage into my personal space; why is everyone standing in the aisle while putting away their bags and blocking me; the other passengers are talking too loudly; the air hostess gave me a dirty look; if one more person tells me to take my ear phones out, I will stab them to death with their own feet; etc.

Take this irrational state of mind, and then make me do it twice in 48 hours. That, ladies and gents, is last weekend.

So, we are sitting on the plane, and my coat is over my head. I am not crying. The only reason I am not crying is because I am trying to prove a point. The point is, I might not have control over the plane, or the air traffic controllers, or the pilot, or the terrorists, or the lightning strike, or the running-out-of-fuel-mid-flight or the bird strike or the engine failure or the sudden occurrence of more gravity which just sucks the plane out of the air, or any of the 20,000 different reasons I can come up with in less than a minute for the plane to crash, but the one thing I do have control of is my tears. I may die, incredibly angry, in a plane crash, but I will not do it crying.


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