No more will I crave the private jet.
If we’d flown by private jet, we’d have missed out on a smorgasbord of fantastical moments. And I’m not being sarcastic here people!
With easyJet, you have a self-service bag-drop thingy which is definitely the most fun your six-year old can have at 4am in an airport. You weigh, you scan, you print, you stick, you’re done. In four minutes. Without queueing AT ALL.
At passport control, a lovely man is happy to check the passport belonging to the boy’s teddy bear, adopting an exaggeratedly professional tone while comparing the bear’s likeness to that in his picture and then declaring him a ‘very handsome bear’.
In the departure lounge, a 6ft man is dressed as a gigantic baby in a babygro, with a bib and dummy. His friends are wearing neon leg-warmers and bells on their shoes. And they are drinking coffee, not Stella, which makes me admire their stag-dress all the more for being undertaken whilst sober.
Curiously, the beer-drinking is mostly being done by Dads who sit with their wives and young children whilst getting steadily tanked-up because even though it’s 4am, they are officially ON HOLIDAY and might as well start as they mean to go on when enduring 24/7 with the fam.
Once on the plane, the kids and I place bets on how long it will take their Dad to fall asleep. As is tradition, he’s out before we take off.
Climbing up through the night sky, tummies wobbling, ears popping, we suddenly break through the clouds into a bright orange sky. It makes daughter and I feel a bit weepy.
There is an announcement. easyJet would like to give a special message to Sue who is on board with us today, travelling with friends to Marbella to celebrate her 50th birthday. Her friend Anne who lives in Australia is so sorry she couldn’t be here but has sent you this message… And Anne appears, skipping down the aisle. Sue stands up and stares and slaps her hand across her mouth and we all clap and cheer as they get hold of each other.
Behind us, a Roddy Doyle-style conversation is happening between two pensioners who’ve just met:
Him: I’m having me tumour shrunk. They gave me six month, eighteenth month ago…that’s medication.
Her: Any side effects?
Him: Yeah it’s female hormones so…you get boobs. Not all the time, they come and go.
Her: Oooh I could do with some of that.
Him: It’s alright really.
Her: Well, whatever keeps you waking up in the morning… The older you get the quicker it goes.
Then you wonder what you done with your life. Or shoulda done.
Him: You can’t change it.
Her: I regret getting married.
(Her husband is sitting between them)
Her: Oh, he knows. Me Dad ill-treated me. I jumped out of the frying pan and into the deep-fat frier… He’s been a right Jack-the-lad.
(Husband says nothing).
Him: My missis’s got eye problems. Arthirits is bad in her neck. Can’t do nothing anymore.
(His wife is sitting just across the aisle).
Him: She was a nurse. And a looker once upon a time.
Her: You get a decent pension?
Him: Not bad.
Her: I drew mine and a bit more.
Him: I worked forty-five years.
Her: Well you’ve earned your oyster. Enjoy it while you can, I say.
I stop writing down their conversation and look across the asile to Gwyneth. He’s woken up now and is watching a film on his laptop, giggling. We’ve had a tough year. The kids have felt it. But we have no tumours, no Jack-the-lad episodes, no bad eyes or arthritic necks.
Towards the end of the flight, we buy the boy an easyJet plane from the on-board shop. His fascination with planes has led to an enormous collection, mostly gifted by his awesome childminder, but the easyJet ones have proved hard to find. She’ll be as thrilled as the boy.
Leaving the plane, gleefully flying his toy version down the aisle, he hovers for a moment at the cock-pit door, desperate to catch a quick glimpse of all those buttons. One of the pilots spots him, and then this happens:
Daughter and I are a bit weepy again.
So here we are, in a wonderland where the evening entertainment is watching lizards murder moths and listening to the wild dogs howl, where smoking is actually THE LAW and the women flaunt wobbly thighs in shorts and it’s VERY GODDAM SEXY, where Gwyneth EATS BREAD and plays me the new Peter Gabriel album which is GLORIOUS, where daughter makes me wheeze-laugh all day because at seventeen she’s the funniest damn chick I know and where I would rather have cuddles with the boy than fags on my own (unless it’s after 11pm in which case he can toddle off and cuddle himself).
We need to enjoy every moment, don’t we? If we can.
We’ve earned our oyster…