Last Monday a few of us set off for a workshop on emotions in Prato, Italy. I was viewed with suspicion by a colleague, aware of past exploits (for a taster, click here), as she had her hand luggage thoroughly searched at Gatwick. This look intensified after she rinsed the gold ring, that she had worn for over 30 years, down the sink in the toilets near the boarding gate.
She travelled home on Wednesday and texted me to say that the bus had sailed past the airport without stopping. I was a jinxed travelling companion even from afar. I texted back “Sorry” but thought I’d maybe (for once) got a mayhem free travel pass…
My plane took off on Friday afternoon. Twenty five minutes after take off, flying high over mountains, the captain made a lengthy announcement in Italian. Switching to English, he said “Lay-dees and gentlemen, we’ve developed a technical fault and need to return immediately to Florence”.
Wow! I was pondering over the use of the word immediately (as in, was there an option to chuff along for a bit longer before turning round?) but got distracted by sobbing from the back of the plane. Then an American woman in the seat behind me started saying loudly;
“I KNEW IT. I KNEW THERE WAS A PROBLEM AS SOON AS WE TOOK OFF AND THE PLANE BANKED SO SHARPLY TO THE LEFT. I KNEW IT!!!”
The sobbing intensified, the man next to shouty lady tried to persuade her to shut the fuck up. He told her it was a problem with cabin pressure (the Italian announcement had gone into more detail). We had to turn back or we would become ill.
“I’ve got a terrible pain in my eye,” moaned the girl in front of me. Luckily at that point, someone magicked a large bottle of sedatives and started sharing them round the section of the plane I was in.
“Take four or five…”, pill lady urged people. “You’re only supposed to take two at a time, but take four or five”. I passed on the pills and spent the next twenty minutes looking out of the window, with one eye shut, wishing the pilot would fly a bit closer to the ground. Just in case.
Two and a half hours later, after an extended stay on the runway at Florence, surrounded by fire engines and mechanics, we were back in the air over France. Another lengthy announcement in Italian.
Oh crap. What now?
“We want to let you know that this is Captain Jackiano’s final flight, after thirty years of honourable service. We would like to share the moment with you all”.
A moment’s silence and then we all started cheering.