The boy is rummaging around in his little bit of space and wants to know what is under his seat. Of course Iím stupid and tell him thatís his lifejacket. Now he wants to know why he has a lifejacket under his seat. I end up telling him a story about a plane once many years ago that landed in the sea by accident and that after that a rule was made saying all planes should have lifejackets but since then no one has ever mistaken the sea for a runway. He appears ok with this. The captain then comes over the tannoy to introduce himself and to tell us that it was ďa bit warmĒ in Orlando. I know heís lying because Iíve been checking and itís bloody hot in Orlando.
We spend a few minutes checking out the flight crew as they are now wandering up and down the aisles checking we have our seat belts on and seats in the upright position with all bags in the overhead lockers or underneath the seat in front. One female member of the crew has her hair piled up far too high on her head and it makes her look a little strange. It was like she was walking up and down with a small basket on her head. After a while we tire of passenger watching and become vaguely aware of the sound of a baby grizzling somewhere in front of us. Little lad is clearly not over-enamoured by the idea of meeting Mickey Mouse. Auntie Jo toys with the idea of offering his grownups some of her diazepam to put in his bottle but decides instead to save it and had it out to the adults. A few more minutes of playing with the new fangled bend around headrests and we are spent.
Then we pushback. Yes, at 11.40am the plane finally starts to move. The rain is coming down fairly steadily now so we really Anyway pushback grinds to a halt as our 747 is believe it or not boxed in by another 747 taxiing down to the runway.
Soon however we are at the head of the runway waiting for clearance to take off. As we start to move and gain speed the boy suddenly becomes a bit nervous and grips his arm rests tightly. Only for a few seconds though because as we leave the ground he squeals with excitement and glues his face to the little window next to his seat giving us a running commentary on what his happening outside. He was fascinated by the fact that we could see the tops of the clouds and sat like that until they bought round the headphones and amenity packs. Now, I flew with Virgin Atlantic when it was just a few years old and remember getting these really cool amenity packs with lip balm and hand wipes and all sorts of cool things in them. Now in economy you get socks, eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a pen. Oh well, the pen will always be useful. The arrival of the headphones announced the big switching on of the in-flight entertainment on our little TV screens.
I donít know about most of you but watching a film on a little screen on a plane while people move all around you is not my idea of how a film should be watched so rarely make it from opening to closing credits. I normally have a flick round the TV channels available and then sit for six hours announcing my boredom to the rest of the plane. This time I thought Iíd try a bit harder. As most of the people around me appeared to be watching the latest Shrek instalment I started with that. After about five minutes I realised it wasnít going to work and started to flick. I stopped at a film called Invictus which is about how the South African rugby team won the Rugby World Cup in 1995. To cut a long story short I managed to get through to the end of the film. It was ok.
I was helped through the film by the fact that halfway through our food ap-peared. Airline food is amazing. Itís hysterical. Have a look around the internet and youíll find whole websites devoted to the joys of airline catering. So, the culinary delight served up for me today was salad, sweet and sour chicken, roll and butter and a chocolate based dessert. I took a mouthful of the salad and almost sprayed it across the back of the row of seats in front. Whatever dressing the caterers had applied to my iceberg lettuce was now coating the inside of my mouth with a bitter lining. I started to signal frantically to my family members to not break the seal on the salad but it was too late judging by some of the facial expressions appearing around me. The main dish was edible and the dessert was very nice but about one tenth the size of what I consider to be a reasonable portion size for a dessert.
So thatís the main meal over with and the first cycle of films over with too. I check my watch that I set to Florida time as we left England and find to my horror that I have only been in the air for two hours. Only one quarter of the way through the flight and Iím already losing the will to live. I play with the skymap for a bit and it amuses me for a while longer and I manage to make it through one third of our flight time before beginning to announce my boredom to the rest of the plane.