I was in a bad mood to start with. That morning, after having just finished applying my make-up, the tears started flowing, allowing freshly applied mascara to course down my cheeks. I didn’t want to go back home so soon, I didn’t want to leave FP again, and I'd spent hours doing my make-up only to find I looked even worse than when I started. And so the tears flowed freely and they never really stopped for the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure I lost a good few litres of water that day due to my eye leakage.
At the airport there were simply Too Many People. FP and I sat in the café surrounded by tables full of rowdy Scottish men in kilts and football shirts. They were loud, drunk and vulgar. One of the men spilt a glass bottle of beer on the floor, laughed and walked away from the scene of the crime without a care in the world while the rest of his crew laughed as one of the staff slipped on the sodden floor ('ha ha ha Jimmy yer a pure riot by ra way'). It was the first time I felt ashamed of my own nation and it made me cringe. I gave a weary sigh as I realised that I would have to spend an hour and a half on the same flight as these men and, because I was officially having a V Bad Day, I figured I would probably have to sit next to them on the plane too.
As I said goodbye to FP I bit my lip with a force until I tasted the metallic blood in my mouth. But there was no stopping those tears. They brimmed my eyes until I couldn’t see anymore, before spilling over when I blinked. We said our goodbyes, embraced and he turned and left, stopping to look over his shoulder one last time. My God, I thought, I love him so much.
I avoided eye contact with everyone, keeping my head down, and swearing under my breath. I beeped as I walked through the beepy thing at security and endured the feeling up done by an over-keen lady with cropped dark hair gelled to her skull and a generous bosom who I would put £50 on being a lesbian. Up the inside of one leg and down the inside of the other she touched me up and I sighed as I watched another airport official raking through my bag, tipping the tampons I'd stashed in the side pocket out onto the desk for all and sundry to see. Of course he put none of it back himself, no, that was left for me to do, which is impossible to do in any sort of organised and dignified fashion when you’re being forced to ‘move along, move along’ by Security.
Thank God my plane is expected to leave on time.
The drunk football fans were sitting in a tangled mass of kilts and sporrans, their red faces laughing at vile jokes and such (‘That burd was a pure beezer by ra way, a’d have her any day so a wid’). I avoided them and sat on the opposite side of the lounge until my flight was called.
I was pleased I’d paid extra for that Priority Boarding Pass in the end because the flight was full to overflowing. Who would have thought that a flight leaving at 11pm on a Friday night would be so full? I scurried onto the plane and hid myself away in a seat at the front, buried my nose in a book and avoided eye contact with all the passengers who walked by. Soon the two seats next to me were taken up by two – Oh in the name of…it was Jimmy the drunk who had smashed the beer bottle and another of the kilted football fans. I bloody well knew it. Could today get any worse?!
Of course it could get worse. Things can always get worse. Always.
This day had now been officially downgraded to a V V Bad Day.
Jimmy sat next to me. He was overweight and frankly should have had the right to two airline seats – he was taking up half of my seat anyway. I was forced to squeeze my body tight against the wall of the plane, my face pressed against the little porthole window, and I tried hard to hold my breath for as long as possible to avoid breathing in the melange of stale sweat and alcohol that was emanating from these punks’ pores.
Jimmy and his mate, who turned out to be called Rosco, if you were interested, were not peaceful passengers. At one point Rosco turned to his friend and slurred ‘Yer ma best mate, ye ken that?’ which would have been dead sweet in other circumstances but I was a tad worried in case I was going to be forced into witnessing the confession of one man’s undying love for another. The rest of their group were dotted about the plane, and the pair next to me enjoyed lengthy conversations shouted to and fro at full volume.
At one point there was a lady who was causing a fuss towards the front of the plane. She was standing in the aisle having a full blown dispute with a young air stewardess, complaining about something to do with her bag not fitting into the overhead compartment and God damn it she wanted to move seats and she wanted to move seats now. Her face was contorted into some kind of permanent grimace and there were several veins jumping in her forehead. She was being totally unreasonable, and I could feel that horrible bubble of anger beginning to boil in the pit of my own stomach. Why doesn’t she just shut up? Just sit the hell down and stow your bag under the seat in front. I wanted to stand up and slap her. And then Jimmy’s mate Rosco muttered under his breath, ‘Just shut up and sit down. Man, what an arsehole,’ to which several of the people surrounding us voiced hushed noises in agreement.
I decided there and then that Rosco was a better man than I had first given him credit for.
An hour into the flight and things seemed to have settled down. The football fans had all either fallen asleep or were just beginning to hit their hangovers so weren’t in the mood to talk. Jimmy was snoring next to me, which was a pain, but certainly preferable to his guffaw that startled me and made me jump. I just hoped he wouldn’t end up laying his head on my shoulder, because if he touched me I couldn’t be held responsible for my actions.
There was a beep and a camp steward said over the tannoy, ‘Ladies and Gentleman could I have your attention for a moment, this is an emergency.’ My heart froze. ‘If there is a passenger on board who is a doctor or nurse could you please alert the crew by pressing the call button on the panel above your head.’
At that heads bobbed up from sleeping positions and eyes searched for the sick person, or indeed if there were any passengers who pressed the call button above their heads. There was one. I tried to look behind me towards the back of the plane where there were several stewardesses and passengers forming a small crowd but I felt like a nosey old woman so I had to stop. I crossed my fingers and hoped it wasn’t serious.
The air crew were rushing up and down the aisle, one carrying a glass of water, another carrying an oxygen canister, some stopping to reassure other passengers. The camp steward made another announcement; was there anybody on board with a first aid kit?
Bloody hell, I thought. Aren’t they supposed to carry their own first aid kit? I became slightly agitated. Nervously I gripped the one arm rest that wasn’t sunk into the side of one of Jimmy’s ample love handles and watched as my knuckles slowly turned white.
We were around thirty minutes away from landing in Glasgow when the tannoy came on once more. This time it was the captain. ‘We have a medical emergency. We need to divert to London, Stansted.’
Now, I had a great deal of sympathy for the medical emergency sufferer. But in the end it took longer than thirty minutes to land at Stansted because we had to circle the airport while waiting for air traffic control to allow us to land. I wondered whether it may have been a mistake to have chosen to land here instead of just continuing on to Glasgow where we would have arrived earlier. What was worse was even after we had landed in London the paramedics came onto the plane and treated the guy right there in front of everyone while we all sat waiting and being nosey bastards trying to get a look to see what was going on. Poor guy.
After an hour of this, Jimmy and his crew began to get impatient, and I am ashamed to admit that I was too. The fact was we weren’t allowed off the plane. We found this out when a young French man (who I despised straight away because he was evidently an eejit) had immediately stood up from his seat as the plane had landed and had tried to push his way out past the paramedics who were only just entering. ‘I need a cigarette’, he’d screamed out. Hellooo there’s a medical emergency and you’re pushing your way past the doctors for a fag? You selfish gobshite. He begged the staff several times before finally going back to his seat in a huff. Half an hour later he tried again. Fifteen minutes after that he tried again. I wished they’d let him off and then left him behind in London.
We were allowed to stretch our legs by walking the teensy tiny aisle of the plane and we could use the toilet but I was boxed in by my friend Jimmy and my bum was completely numb. I literally could not feel anything from the waist down and when I wiggled my toes it sent an electrical current of pain to my fingers. That was kind of freaky.
Eventually the paramedics and the guy who was ill disembarked the plane, around two hours after we’d landed in Stansted. I tried hard not to blame the boy, after all it really wasn’t his fault, but I bet the poor lad could feel the blame radiating from the majority of passenger’s pores as he left.
Another forty-five minutes later and we were still there, sitting quietly on the runway. We were waiting for fuel. And when we had fuel, we were waiting for some ‘agent’, although it beats me what that was all about. And finally, finally! we headed for Glasgow.
I arrived home at 4 am, my poor mother had waited for me at the airport all that time. I raced through the corridors of the building in order to get to the front of the queue for Passport Control. Fifteen minutes in that queue stuck next to Jimmy, Rosco and several of their other kilted pals and everyone was in foul moods. One of the kilted boys stated rather loudly ‘Aw fur f**k sake man, they let 30,000 Polish intae the country, how come they’re bein’ sae strict noo?’ Which I thought was rather rude.
As I recounted my hideous flight from hell to my mother in the car on our hour long journey home, she couldn’t help but laugh. Rolling her eyes she turned to me and said, ‘it could have been worse…’ she then told me about a colleague of hers, Anna, who was on a flight to Australia when a man died on the plane. Just like that. Just stopped living. The plane was then delayed for 24 hours, passengers were not allowed off the plane for over five.
The worst thing?
Anna was sitting next to the man when he died.