A New Mile-High Club Class for the Anti-Social ; `I Belong to That School of Travellers That Eschews Any Form of Bonding with My Fellow Passengers'
Arnold, Sue, The Independent (London, England)
HALF THE country left for foreign parts via Gatwick on Boxing Day - well, that's what it felt like. "That's the trouble with teaching," said the geography teacher from Aylesbury beside me on one of seven packed Virgin Atlantic flights leaving at around 11am for American and Caribbean destinations. "You have to take your holiday with everyone else." That's what comes of having children, I suppose. I'm not complaining. I love the sun, it's getting to it that takes years off one's life.
Joining the check-in queue was the first hurdle. "How many of you are travelling?" asked the uniformed Virgin. Six. So where are the other four? Good question. "You can't join the queue until everyone is here," said the Virgin. It's granny, I said, she keeps wandering off. "Does she need wheelchair assistance?" asked the Virgin. No, I said, she needs a cigarette and the only smoking area is somewhere upstairs.
The next problem was seating. A blonde woman checking in at the desk next to us was raising Cain, because she had specifically asked for eight adjoining seats and hadn't got them. "In that case, I demand an upgrade," she shouted. "I'm afraid I can't seat you all together," said our check- in girl. Thank God for that, said my husband.
When I got to my seat the woman beside me said: "How do you do, my name's Shirley and this is Roy, my other half. We are frequent Virgins. In fact, we were in Antigua last Christmas and again at Easter." Gosh, I said, are you jet setters, then? "No, we're teachers," said Shirley, "and if you're going to ask me what I think about Chris Woodhead then the answer is, right message, wrong man."
I wasn't going to ask her anything, belonging, as I do, to that school of travellers that studiously eschews any form of bonding with my fellow passengers. But Shirley, like the Ancient Mariner, was on a mission and I, like the Wedding Guest, was powerless to stop her. It was about a wedding. Last October, Shirley's only daughter got married. …