9 March 2008


At first, it felt a little like being in a farm, stuck with herds of strangers. I just wasn't reassured. It all felt cheap and cheery and 'what does it matter if we crash and you die?' An old Indian woman next to me in the queue about to board the plane had told me, just ten minutes before, that Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of EasyJet, was going to be on the plane with us – she had seen him hanging around. I suddenly remembered this interesting information and told myself that surely if the boss is going to be on board, they will have triple-checked everything and so we would be fine. In any case, my lucky star is always there with me. Nothing to worry about. I have never had any problems travelling, it wasn't going to start happening today.

The first flight of my life was when I was six months old, ironically to Nice, just like today (though, of course, from Paris, not London, and [perhaps shockingly] in the care of an air hostess – not because my mum was one, not because I was an orphan or in foster care – no, simply because those were the times when you could entrust your infant with a hostess to deliver her to her grandparents at the other end of the country, which thus freed you to set off on your own travels, whether it be India or Senegal or any country in between). So yes, I was practically born on a plane. I'm used to flying. I must have flown more than 100 times in the thirty-one years I've been using this means of transport. It's just that, this afternoon, I didn't like the feel of the whole experience.

Now that I've read a few pages of my book (Alias Grace) and an article about Petite Anglaise (alias Catherine Sanderson) in the Daily Telegraph, and chatted a little to my neighbours (thankfully, by some sort of miracle, there was a seat towards the front of the plane and I didn’t have to sit down right in the middle of the twenty-strong group of secondary school students, acting like brats), I feel a bit more settled. It's not the nice, relaxing, quiet atmosphere of a British Airways plane, but for 56 pounds, it will do I suppose. I'd like to snooze for a while, but I don't seem to be tired enough.

People keep buying stuff – mini pizzas, red wine, bottles of water, scratch cards, tea, chocolate bars, lip gloss, collagen eye masks... You wonder why they bother getting cheap flight tickets to then buy lots of expensive extra things they don't need. I, for one, made my own salad last night and, along with a yoghurt, a banana, an apple and plastic fork and spoon, stuffed it in my already-bulging travel bag. Admittedly, I did buy a small Toblerone bar and a packet of Polos when I arrived at the airport, for a grand total of £1.42. Reasonable, wouldn't you say? Go low-cost airlines! At least, thanks to the likes of Stelios, we have a choice: fly as cheaply as is possible, then spend, or not, extortionate amounts on tat. Oh and it's quite safe – I arrived unscathed in the land of my childhood holidays, in and around Nice. I am ready to start my pilgrimage proper.

No comments: