Back to gate 17 and we are repeatedly told to be holding our own passports open at the photo page and to have our boarding passes ready. Simple right? Especially when youíve been given this instruction at least 5 times while you have been waiting in line. Apparently not simple. I donít get it; my seven year old son managed to follow those instructions to the letter so why canít fully grown adults do it?
Once through the final security check it was straight to the window to get the boyís photo in front of our plane which for this trip was Jersey Girl. As we were doing this an announcement came over the tannoy for all children who had not received their kidís packs to go back to the security point. My god, youíd have thought they were giving out the last cup of tea in England the way some parents grabbed their children and charged over there. Iíve been in the middle of gentler rugby scrums. I waited on the periphery with Steven whilst the others wrestled each other and then helped ourselves to a bag once the dust had settled.
Another announcement came stating that we were to proceed straight on to the plane and not wait in the seating area. That was a major disappointment for me as one of the favourite parts of my plane boarding experience had been eliminated. Itís the one where the ground crew say they will be boarding strictly by row number and immediately two hundred people stand up and crowd around the gate in case the plane goes without them. In our house we call it The Sheep Factor. Anyway it was gone. No Sheep Factor. We just walked straight down the tunnel and on to the plane.
We are seated in row 44 which is right by the wing. The boy is immensely excited by the fact that there is a blanket on his seat. He checks out the contents of the bag that women has just recently come to blows over and finds a watch which is far too big for his little wrist, a book, some puzzles and pencils and a few sweets. Thatís what people were stampeding for.
By now the perfume I sprayed over myself in duty free is really giving me a headache and according to the skymap on the little screen in front of me there is still 4349 miles to go till we reach Orlando. And then immigration and reclaiming luggage and customs and giving away luggage and reclaiming it again and then car rental to get through before driving on the wrong side of the road to a place weíd never been to before. And I had a headache already.
That restless feeling starts to kick in now; the one where youíve been sitting on a plane for 40 minutes and nothing has happened yet. The inflight magazine has been read, the contents of the seat pocket checked and now youíre bored. And you havenít even pushed back from the gate yet. And then we spot her. The vision in dyed blonde hair. Of course Auntie Jo being the hair stylist spotted immediately that she had extentions and we all spotted that she was not a natural blonde. Already highly tanned and dressed twenty years too young for her, she teetered along the aisle in her 6 inch heels accompanied by a man that looked as though he was good friends with someone whose name ended in Kray. She carried a duty free bag containing 4 different types of perfume. We immediately named her Barbie.