Neil Humphreys' "Flying without wind"

WEEKEND TODAY June 26-27, 2004

[yes i know this is "old" stuff - but hey! i'm only cleaning up my house and clearing out all this stuff, so... Anyway, i got a laugh outta this - and i hope u do too. ;)]

text version here, more beautiful "newsprint" pdf version here.
Flying without wind

Travelling to Portugal involves battery hens, seatbelts and clenching

AFTER spending 16 hours imitating a battery hen on a flight which promised more legroom, I can draw only one conclusion.
   The aircraft's engineer was a pervert, with a fetish for dwarves and midgets.
   Either that or he is a member of the SAS (short-ass syndrome) and has made it his mission in life to make the lives of tall people as uncomfortable as possible.
   Remember, we're combustible. Cooped up in a confined space for long periods does things to the internal workings of a tall man's body. All that compressed gas from the endless cans of coke has a indefatigable desire to return later with a bang.
   The airlines' strict non-smoking ruling is not merely a courtesy for non-smokers. Having a naked flame anywhere near me after three cans of coke on a plane is one hell of a flammable risk.
   But that's not the only reason the lovely hostess kept her distance.
   There was some antagonism displayed when I pretended to be asleep during the pre-flight safety drill.
   Tapping me on the shoulder, she said: "Excuse me, sir. Would you mind watching the safety demonstration?"
   "It's okay. I've seen it before."
   "But could you watch our one?"
   "Why? Does this one have a better plot?"
   She smiled politely, clearly resisting the temptation to gag me with a hot towel and vowing to avoid the smelly ang moh for the rest of the flight.
   The strict seat belt regulation is my particular favourite. Every time there is the tiniest of turbulence, the pilot announces: "Put your seat belt on right now, damn it. Or I'll come down there and give you a damn good thrashing.
   "And will the lanky ang moh in 41C, please respect other passengers and go to the toilet."
   I was on an American airline once and, following some minor turbulence, a rather large flight attendant almost RAN down the aisle to reprimand me.
   "Put your seat belt on," she ordered, rather curtly. "There's some turbulence."
   "Yeah, I know. And most of it was caused by you running down the aisle."
   I didn't really say that. She was twice my size.
   But what is that seat belt going to do in an emergency?
   When was the last time you switched on Channel NewsAsia and the presenter said: "Today, a flight bound for Never Never Land crashed into the side of Space Mountain. The plane was travelling at a speed of 1,000kmh and disintegrated on impact.
   "Fortunately, there were no fatalities as all the passengers were wearing seat belts."
   Before I stepped in to the plane this week, I'd already decided my fate. If it started to lose altitude, I would reach for my seat belt ? take it off ? and grab my Euro 2004 match tickets. If I was going down, they were going with me.
   That's right. I'm in Portugal to watch tanned men work up a sweat together, which is not a bad way to earn a living.
   I've had the tickets for two weeks and would've told you earlier, but I didn't want to be mugged in Toa Payoh.
   Paranoid? I thought I was going to lose them before I left Changi.
   While airport security scanned my luggage, one of the officers asked: "So, where are you going?"
   "For the Euro 2004 Championships? You have tickets? Where are the tickets? Have you got them now?"
   "No, I'm picking them up in Lisbon."
   They were actually in my hand luggage. But he asked too many excitable questions about the tickets. And he had a gun.
   But I escaped to arrive in a country where the most famous people appear to be the footballers, Eusebio and Luis Figo, and explorer Vasco Da Gama.
   Old Vasco is a bit of a legend here, though the reasons for that are rather mystifying.
   The seafarer was tasked with finding the sea route to India, which he did in 1498, but returned with absolutely nothing.
   On his third visit, he was appointed viceroy of India, but died within four months of "ulcers in his neck".
   Swashbuckling stuff. Can you imagine the movie posters for that?
   "Vasco came. He saw. He died of neck ulcers."
   Not quite Columbus. But at least Vasco didn't spend his time strapped to a tiny seat, hoping to avoid a tail wind.

Catch Neil Humphreys' live Euro 2004 updates from Portugal on Gold 90.5FM's Gold Nightshift with Mr X on weeknights at 11.

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