Magazine article The Spectator

Bound Together

Magazine article The Spectator

Bound Together

Article excerpt

Witnessing me overcome my fear of flying on a recent trip to Corfu must have given the members of my book club a long overdue dose of schadenfreude. Ten years ago, when we first formed our monthly meetings, I made a vapid, sexist remark that they've rightly never let me live down. I said my biggest nightmare was to be piloted by a woman. For along with adhering to various quirky superstitions before boarding, I find it imperative to bond with my Captain. I listen to him welcoming me on board with a reverence normally reserved for an audience with the Pope, my panic levels entirely determined by the timbre of Richard/Geoffrey/Colin's voice.

However, last month I succeeded in flying cold turkey. No drugs, no alcohol -- I didn't even wear my lucky knickers. I think I must have been so buoyed up by the excitement of going away with five girlfriends for a four-day break I simply forgot to be frightened. It wasn't until we actually landed and I heard Margaret's voice coming over the Tannoy that I realised I'd been set free.

Actually, I'd been set free in more ways than one. For the first time since I was a kid at school I was going on a 'girls only' outing. Despite the fact that only half the members of the book club were able to escape for this much-anticipated mini break, we made for an exceptionally tight, compatible gang. Husbands and children always seem to want to make extensive plans on holiday; the joy of going with six girlfriends was the total lack of an agenda. Pre-renting a minibus at the airport and teetotaller Louise volunteering to drive were the extent of our forward-planning. From then on, we happily made no plans whatsoever except to thoroughly enjoy ourselves and hopefully get around to actually reading the book (William Boyd's Restless) we had ostensibly come to discuss. We cruised along the coast road heading towards Nissaki without even bothering to buy a map -- surely a veritable act of heresy in any man's eyes -- stopping only to briefly admire the Venetian architecture of Corfu Town and to buy a case of Boutari Sec Rosé and some food for supper.

Celestia's magnificent house, Katavolos, is set high in the hills surrounded by olive trees. …

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