Late Life Crisis - July 2018

The Airport Idiot

The theory is that if you fly British Airways, you are more likely to be insulated from the type of fellow passenger that you would wish to avoid. Anyone who has found themselves on a budget airline flight to Spain wedged in the middle of a partying hen or stag party, woud welcome that insulation. 

However, there is no guarantee of avoiding the undesirables.

At the departure gate on a flight from France to London, a well-spoken British passenger jumps up and marches to the desk. He explains loudly that he has lost his passport, and that he needs to go back to find it. The offiicials pause for a moment, a fatal moment as it is enough for the man to question whether they understand English. 

The man then questions their attitude, along the lines of "Are you calling me stupid?". Having achieved pre-emptive provocation, he then calls the staff stupid.

The main target is a French male member of staff. In steady, calm, and grammatically accurate English, the man explains that he understands English very well. The passenger turns tail and marches back to his seat.

Moments later he finds his passport. 

Running back to the desk, the passenger apologises loudly and emotionally: he is "so, so sorry". He returns to his seat and then repeats the performance two or three more times. He follows this by telling a woman sitting next to him that he is so, so sorry.

Having sort of calmed down, he then wanders around the lounge area attempting to engage other passengers in conversation. He has initial luck in each case, but pretty soon the laughs in response to his witticisms appear to become strained.

In the meantime I adopt the practised response to odd behaviour on the tube - avert eyes.

I am seated towards the back of the plane. The chap must be somewhere towards the front. I am relieved. Less relieved, I am certain, would be the premium-paying Club Class passengers if he ended up with them.

Death of the High Street

My local building society branch now has weekday opening hours of 10.30am to 4pm - I discovered this through arriving one day at 4.10pm. Brace yourselves for a steady further erosion?

I use the branch rarely, but when I do my impression in the queue is of people who have not been able to embrace the "changing face of banking". Conceitedly I have just about managed this, but I feel their pain.

Got to look out the window

On the flight following the incident reported above, I sat in a window seat. The plane was a smaller one, with two seats either side of the aisle.

Next to me was a young man, who may have been either French or Spanish. On the other side of the aisle was his girlfriend. The young man was clearly much in love, as he often stretched out his hand to hold hers. This was touching, although inconvenient to the cabin crew, and to passengers trying to get to the toilet.

The young man clutched his phone in his hand. In fact, he did not seem to have very much to do on the flight apart from clutching his phone or clutching his girlfriend's hand. 

That is with the exception of trying to look out the window on my side. This he started doing from point of the plane taxiing, through to about 30 minutes into the flight.

It is awkward to know what to do when someone appears to be eyeballing you but is of course trying to look beyond you. I had bought a newspaper at the airport, and I resorted in an almost juvenile manner to spreading the pages so as to impede his view.

But he was a determined, this young man: if I leaned back he would lean forward; if leaned forward he would lean back. After we had kept up this dance for a while, I was going to ask him if he would like to swap places - this of course would have been inconvenient to his handholding. Luckily the snacks service arrived, he relented, and I was spared making a decision.

The writer is a tour guide, lecturer, and former City law firm partner, who writes on various things.