There is nothing so absurd as the queue for an aeroplane. There are no seats at the gate so I end up standing in it too like a beast for the slaughter. Normally I sit and watch until they’ve all packed in, and then saunter up to the front alongside a few other like minded individuals and fall into the plane.
Some suckers have paid for priority boarding and they’re cramming in early. We can see them through the window, flaunting their idiocy. All of us have allocated seats these days on Ryanair, to make it easier for them to match our corpses with our dental records. It’s not the Black Friday free-for-all it used to be. When you board is completely irrelevant so long as you get on the plane. But still, people are anxious. The women in front of me are deep in intense conversation. They’ve left a gap in the queue in front of them, where exceptionally excited cattle have started to sandwich themselves against the closed barrier and kettle one other. I’m in no rush so I just wait for them to notice. The woman behind me though – she’s immediately anxious. Nature abhors a vacuum. She sees an empty space and despite the fact the barrier is shut she wants to go in it. She can’t understand why I’m not moving and seeks to solve it by tutting and huffing. I ask her if she wants to go in front of me and she immediately does so, frog mouthed, and then stands there for five minutes with me looking at the back of her neck. Eventually she turns round and says to me “I could see people boarding the plane through the window,” by way of explanation. “We’ll all get on eventually.” I reply. “Or at least I hope we do.” She ignores my attempt at a joke. I might be a lunatic. It was just politeness anyway, but she’s done enough by acknowledging, with her comment, that she’s a dick. She can go back to pursing her lips until we have boarded.
And we do board eventually. We all get shoved into this streamlined flying can and we sit in our allocated seats pretending to be separate entities and flying through the air at speeds they used to think would liquify our brains. 520mph. To France, Ho!
By all accounts the head honcho at Ryanair is a poisonous little shit but for my purposes at least he’s a Catholic. £18 single to Lourdes cannot be overlooked. We are about to hurl ourselves south in this impossible contraption. The captain tells us it’s “good flying conditions.” It’s definitely a beautiful day.
And we’re off. Just over an hour in the air so they have to start selling stuff quickly. They’re immediately on the microphone pretending they want us to enjoy our flight and perhaps we’ll enjoy it more if we buy hot drinks or tax free addictives. We’ve already had to walk the undignified duty free temptation slalom through row after row of polished packages attended by bored underpaid women who have been told by the manager to stand there and look welcoming. We all have a feeling that the tax is different and therefore somehow we have to buy things. We are now stuck in this tin can trying not to spend the money they desperately want. We’re a captive audience. I guess that’s how they make up for the excellent ticket price. I’m fine thanks. I’ve eaten. I’ll just sit and write and have coffee when we land in France. The passenger on my right though – they spend €4.50 on a cup of tea and a Kinder Bueno. They manage to resist the temptation of a scratchcard despite the attendant saying “You could win a million dollars” just like they rehearsed on that desperately boring training day. And no sooner have they peddled scratchcards but one of the poor buggers has to walk down the aisle with an open duty free catalogue. “Summer Deals” it trumpets, and I can only thank God it doesn’t say “Christmas” yet. That’s next week.