Did I tell you we were "involuntarily" upgraded on our return flight? While I was prepared to ask for one without asking (which is the best way), Kelly (as indicated on her badge) instantly picked up the phone and dialed a number. I thought perhaps we were going to be processed without the benefit of her actually speaking to us or even hauled away by security for looking suspicious, but she said the magic upgrade words, "No, they're lovely" and hung up the phone. She then informed us we were to be upgraded to Business Class (beds! better food! segregated bathrooms!) and said the cabin crew asked if we were "suitable" for BC. Hence the lovely comment. Bless her.
Business class allows you to use the coveted lounge at the airport which has an open bar and food. We sacrificed several last minute cigarettes to partake as one cannot have too many free Bacardi and Cokes. Technically one can, but for the purposes of this story...
Since it was an involuntary (although we'd have readily volunteered) upgrade, we did our best not to be annoying to the flight crew, since we didn't actually pay for the privilege. Actually you do, just very indirectly. Our row-mates did not feel the same need for a non-annoyance policy. We were seated in the center section of row 10, which is just behind the galley. The seats are arranged with a two-four-two pattern with an aisle between the twos and the four (barely wide enough for the food and drink cart, erm trolley. John chose the seat on the aisle which is good for him, but it means that in order for me to use the bathroom, I must climb over the bed of the gentlemen in row 11. It's a bit wonky.) The aisle seats face forward and the two center seats face rearward.
So I'm sitting cheek by jowl with Miss Manchester 1967. Note that this is an honorary title I bestowed on her and may not in actuality be her title. She may have been first runner-up.
Miss Manchester 1967 and her spouse were not completely used to flying much less flying BC. Bless them, but golly. She spent far too much time removing items from her handbag to stow in the little drawer and then changing her mind about which items would be stored in the handbag versus the drawer. This caused her spouse to not be seated when the plane began its taxi to prepare for take-off and he was stowing her handbag in the overhead. Again. First annoyance to flight crew.
As I finished reading the book I bought in London, she asked what I thought of it. She'd been continually glancing over at me and my book just waiting until I'd finished it. She was fairly trembling with excitement at the prospect of discussing this book. Normally, I love discussing books and exploring the difference of what the writer wrote versus what the writer was conveying. Uncovering the hidden metaphors and digging deeply into the psyche of the characters and all that. However, this book is filled with landmines of issues (We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Soon to be a movie with Tilda Swinton according to the sticker on the book.) as the narrator is a woman who did not bond with her son as a baby and he turns out to be a killer in a Columbine-esque spree. The landmine part comes in from the fact that on the surface, she's a bad mother. Digging deeper, you don't necessarily think she's a good mother, but it's not quite as simple as that. Moving on.). So after MM1967 asks my opinion, she offers up that the woman was a terrible mother. I now know how deeply she's analyzed the prose and, like politics, realize I am not the one with the knowledge or patience to show her the deeper and longer term ramifications of such an opinion. I merely said no she was not and, in an uncharacteristically rude maneuver attempted to raise the very narrow divider between our seats. This proved a bit awkward and unsuccessful as we could still see each other quite easily.
Once we are airborne, MM1967's spouse stands at the galley door, facing the rear of the plane and begins to whistle. Loudly. It wasn't a complete song, but rather a bit of a refrain, over and over. Perhaps a song of the sea, we're not sure. John and I (seasoned BC flyers as we've had at least three previous flights in amazing comfort and felt a big smug for it all) looked at each other and rolled our eyes. Smugly. Soon the flight attendants needed to roll out the carts of free booze and menus (yes, menus! Ahhhhhhh...) and MM1967's spouse had to sit in his actual assigned seat to get the hell out of the way. Second annoyance for flight crew.
It was then time to order our food and MM1967 only wanted the salad and not the starter and explained each time ("just the salad?") that she was on a diet. Possibly third annoyance for flight crew, or perhaps just a who-the-hell-cares moment.
Fast forward to an hour before landing. The flight attendants again roll the trolley (clang, clang, clang) with more food and also some form required by US customs. MM1967 begins the arduous task of again moving items from handbag to drawer and back again while her spouse has been handed his form to fill out. He shouts loudly (in Manchest-erian), "What about our passports?" which is odd, as no one (to my knowledge) has confiscated their passports and if someone later were to ask to see their passports they could simply produce them. But that's just me.
Bless their little hearts but I'm pretty sure they are still locked in a room with US Customs agents due to the fact they tried to bring a houseplant or a side of beef in their luggage.
All for now, more later.