Thursday, October 4, 2007

How To Have a Great Flight

After a quick trip to Singapore I got in to Heathrow aiport at around 3 PM on Tuesday afternoon. Normally I would have felt totally knackered after the long and arduous flight and the time difference of 7 hours.

But fate was on my side. My flight had been half full, or half empty depending on your point of view, whether you're a Singapore Airlines manager or a lucky passenger. I was the latter and had the most enjoyable flight I've ever experienced. I had 3 seats all to myself, luckily they were next to each other, so I spread out and made myself comfortable.

As we took off I watched Singapore disappear beneath me. I watched the ships waiting in the sea and I saw what seemed like a million high rise tower blocks become tiny specks and vanish. Breakfast was served and I devoured it, I don't know about you but I tend to like aircraft food, even more so when there's a bit of table space available either side of me.

After breakfast I lay down and slept, probably getting a good 6 hours in. It was a luxurious situation that I wallowed in. When I woke I read, wrote in my journal and listened to music. I'm an avid avoider of in flight movies for a couple of reasons; first is the fact that they're so often edited to within an inch of their plot to keep them aircraft safe and second is the fact that I struggle to enjoy anything on a screen that small.

So I wrote lots of stuff in my journal, just random thoughts to no one in particular, some of which I'll use in blog posts, some I'll read at some point and others that may be ignored forever. I've kept my own journals / diaries for a few years now. They're therapeutic for me, ways to put out my deepest thoughts, often with the knowledge that no one will ever read them but sometimes with the faint thought that a future generation of little RDs might discover them and find out about their ancestor (me). Sometimes I write things that I want to be read by someone specific and use the journal as a simple means of putting something in draft form.

The music I listened to was a hard hitting combination of genres and styles. I had a band practice that night so figured I better listen to some Mimosa and get "in the zone" so to speak. I spent about an hour listening to us live. It's a strange and slightly disconcerting thing to do.

I like, no, I love our music. I'd like to think that it's the sort of music I'd buy and listen to if I just heard it randomly and it had been played by someone else. But I can't tell if I'm just totally biased because it's us and any semblance of rationality I have goes flying out of the window. On top of that when I listen to a live recording, which this was, I wince at my own performance. I evaluate and think of things I might do differently in the future. It's nice to think of continual improvement but I sometimes wish to be able to just accept it the way it is and enjoy it. Oh well.

After that I went to some Abba. While some fellows love The Police, Stigmata and Joe Zawinal, I readily admit to a love for Abba. There was a very obviously Australian tourist occupying the whole of the middle row of seats next to me. I knew he was Australian without hearing his voice. He was middle aged and wearing clothes that displayed not the slightrest hint of any awareness of the existence of the whole worldwide fashion industry. He had white towelling socks on and trainers that had been designed for something ridiculous like sport.

His hair was spiky from lack of styling and he wore a hat. Fundamentally I think I'm an anti hat sort of person. They're fine if you're a spaceman or a policeman or a construction worker but not for general use, just because you think it looks good. But this was one of those rounded soft materialled hats, I don't know the name and it had 100 or so little metal badges on it. Those ones that people buy as souvenirs from Cheddar Gorge and Stonehenge and the like. I expect he must have taken about an hour to get through the metal detectors at the airport. Clearly he was Australian, that was the only explanation.

He looked like the sort who never ever listens to music, let alone likes it. So you can imagine my surprise when he rose from his slumber and took out his personal CD Walkman thing. Double edged surprise it was as I didn't know there was anyone in the world that listened to anything other than an iPod and I hadn't expected him to be a music lover.

That surprise changed into a new type of Gillette razor and became triple edged with aloe vera strips when he started to play note perfect air piano. I wish I knew what music he was listening to as he began to perform. This was no teenager playing air guitar and thrashing away at wild and vague power chords while headbanging. No this was definitely a pretty competent pianist at work. He was picking out every individual note with his right hand and the left was thumping out some serious rhythm.

As I air drummed to "The day before you came" and tried to play the perfectly suited drum fills our eyes met and we gave each other one of those musicians' smiles, one of mutual respect and mutual love of music.

He still looked like a pillock though.

The flight wore on with more of the same, all good and actually very relaxing. We landed, I queued with all the immigrants and held my British passport with that strange sense of pride. Then I went out into the London cold to find my car and pay the extortionate long term parking fee to have it released. I steamed home, unpacked my case, which only took about 4 minutes and had a bite to eat.

Then I headed off again to my Mimosa band practice. As I hit the delights of the M3 and traffic I thought that was probably the most relaxing flight I've ever had. Wow, next time I'll book 3 seats to myself, that's the answer.


Indyana said...

I've had diaries since I was 8-10.I still have one, as well as this less personal blog!

Nice to know you were in the region!

Confab said...

haha great post!

u meet the most random ppl on an airplane/at an airport. random, but the most interesting too!

Darwin said...

Lucky you, it's pretty rare to have an enjoyable flight. Even luckier if you manage some sleep.

I've got a journal of sorts too besides the blog, for about 5 years now. It's not online, and its highly personal, so much so that I would positively die if anyone ever read it! It's pretty strange to read back on the stuff sometimes though. I suppose its a way of tracking 'personal growth' if you will.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Indyana - Next time I'll pop round for a cup of tea!

Confab - Thanks

Darwin - I guess the sleep thing would appeal to you!