I watched the people around me, feeling pleased that this was going to be an emptyish flight.
A couple of young Lankan student looking guys took their seats next to me. They were told to put them back, so they did, then sat down. They both wore those loud "smart" pointy designer label shoes, that were actually about as designer as the Odel own label pants I was wearing. Their jeans were all stonewashed and ironed and the look was probably what they thought people in London wear all the time.
Watching people like that makes me feel privileged and also uncomfortable. They were as unfamiliar with the airport and flying environment as could be and as I watched their unease and chuckled a bit to myself, I had "there but for the grace of God" thoughts. Of course they reminded me of The Auf as well.
They'd been in front of me in the queue to get into the gate and the grilling they'd got from the Immigration officials had made me feel bad. Questions about their schools, their parents and their backgrounds as well as a general air of being guilty until proving their innocence made me feel for the fellows. I can only assume that there are many young Sri Lankan kids who are so keen to get into certain other countries that this level of scrutiny is necessary.
The Chilean bloke was sat over on the other side. This poor bastard's situation puzzled me. He looked to be in his twenties and was a decent looking chap sporting Converse All Star cut offs in black, combat style shorts and a T shirt of some sort. He looked and sounded about as Sri Lankan as Bill Clinton. Or me actually.
As I had got to the two interrogators before the gate this chap was already being interrogated. He told the people that he had been travelling, had spent a year in Australia and that he was heading back to Chile via London. I waited in the queue as one chap asked the Chilean to translate the Spanish print in his passport into English. It seemed way over the top, for it wasn't just one sentence but the whole page.
Next he was asked the name of the airport he had landed in in Melbourne a year ago, which he couldn't recall. He had to produce his itinerary and then answer the same questions phrased slightly differently all over again. I still can't understand why this took place. Someone said that it might be because the airline would have to bear the cost of flying him back from London to Colombo if he was refused entry into the UK. It makes sense, but it was Immigration officials not airline people subjecting him to the barrage. Answers on a comment on this would be much appreciated.
Still, eventually he got through. He was a good looking bloke so I nodded at him with that bonding thing that birds of a feather feel. He must have been thinking of a bad meal when he saw me, as he made a face like "who the fuck are you?"
Being a SriLankan flight meant that there was the required quota of Buddhist monks. I believe these days the law states that any flight leaving the country must contain at least two of the saffron robed fellows. They did their thing; being smiley and nice to people and sitting in their special "reserved for clergy" section.
I often wonder what would happen if there was a clash of clergy at one of these gates. It would be interesting to see how things would pan out if there were a couple of Catholic priests and some Buddhist chaps competing for the special white cloth covered seats. In a fight I'd put my money on the Catholics, as they can do whatever they want and repent afterwards. Besides, if you ever watched Father Ted then you'll know how these priests are.
A young white smelly looking traveller girl thing was next through. I kid you not but I am turning my nose up as I even type this. She must have been in her very early twenties, possibly even in her late teens, and looked as if she'd just failed an audition to be an extra in The Beach for being a bit too hippyish and scruffy looking.
There was no bra attached to the girl. I say that not because I was looking, I swear I wasn't, but because she wore a loose T shirt top with breasts pushing themselves out of the side. If one of my girls had worn something like that I would have made her change, well, I'd have tried to at least.
She had a few bits of dreadlocked hair, piercings all over her nose and a CND tattoo on the top of one of her feet, clearly visible as she wore old rubber flip flops. I reckoned she was probably a student on a gap year or maybe a member of the British royal family doing some charity work before working in an art gallery. If she'd been a bit scruffier there was also the possibility that she was an NGO. She sat quietly enough and read a Dan Brown book, something I thought to be a strange choice.
Scattered around the lounge were random pairs of British tourists, mostly chav types. They're easy to identify by their uniform of sporting labels (Nike, Adidas, Timberland etc), their lobster coloured tans and the casual smattering of local jewellery or artefacts around their body. Some choose to sport a nice brown leather bag that they've bought on the beach or at Laksala and the women invariably have their nails painted with some kind of fancy pattern. Often they can be seen to sport a yellow wristband, indicating full board with alcohol (locally brewed only).
After around twenty minutes, maybe twenty one, the air crew turned up. There's something so smarmy about them when they do that isn't there? They swan through, marching in a line with their wheeled trolley cases behind them looking as if they own the place. If I was the style advisor for SriLankan airlines the first thing I'd do is ban the female staff from wearing those American tan coloured tights, particularly with open toed sandals that are meant to have bare feet inside them. One word; chee.
Then I saw them. They oozed class and sexiness. They may well have been the most stylish couple ever, complete with stylish kid.
to be continued...................