With this fixed
grin smile, I think I’m more
like a synchronised swimmer than an Air Hostie. And smiling is just
about the last thing I want to do right now. I don’t know
to burst into tears or just go and beat the crap out of the bastard
that’s sitting about twenty feet away. It’s a good
him that there’s a bullet proof, anti hijacker door between
I normally like welcoming the passengers on board, you get good at
spotting the troublemakers, the nice people and the stroppy people. And
it’s always great to guess the mile highers. Believe me there
always surprises – I’ll never forget that pair of
pensioners off on a second honeymoon….Suzie and I cracked up.
Oh my God, look at this lot. A Rugby Tour off to Canada –
are going to be a real handful. And speaking of handfuls, I’d
like to get a handful of Alan’s balls right now - or maybe a
stiletto would be better.
“Are you okay love? You don’t seem to be
That’s Suzie, best friend. Excellent drinking partner when on
overnighters. We’ve looked out for each other ever since we
on the same induction course.
“Yeah, Alan and I had a fight, that’s
Good grief, look at this bloke – he must be 20 stone
pity the poor bugger sitting next to him.
“Yes, sir 23C is the aisle seat on the left hand side
down the first aisle”
This is definitely going to be one of those flights, not only have I
got to scratch Alan’s eyes out, but I’ve only got
flight to do it in. I’ve got a double shift, and so
working on the return leg but Alan’s staying.
I hope the public
– and by that I mean the two
hundred and ninety four people who are at this moment piling onto this
Airbus A340-300 – never find out just how redundant we pilots
are. Here I am doing this pre flight check, and all the time the
onboard computers have completed it within minutes – and
made a better job of it than me. Thank heaven that Jim’s with
today – he’s one of the better guys to fly with.
conscientious. There’s a fallacy that the RAF’s
get to fly fighters. The RAF’s best of the best get to fly
Queen’s planes. That’s what Jimmy boy here did.
In fact, today the computers definitely made a better job of it than
me. Goodness only knows what boxes I checked and what buttons I
clicked. All I can think of is Debs, and how I can sort it out with
her. I’ve just got to get to her and make her listen so I can
explain everything. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much. What
I mean “normally”, we’ve hardly ever
voices at each other before, and now I think she’d like to
me on a spit. Anyway, normally I’d sort it out in Toronto,
Debs has pulled a double shifter and is going straight back.
“What’s the matter mate? You seem a bit distracted?
“Just a bit hacked off with Debs. She’s gone off on
won’t let me explain. Ahh, forget it. I’ll tell you
I think we’d better check in with ATC.”
We were all sooo
glad when the airline introduced
the video safety announcement. We still do a bit arm waving and exit
pointing, but not like the old days – thank God. Time to
down and look at seatbelts - or the “crotch watch”
and I call it. I’ll bet a week’s wages right now
rugby player in 19D says “seen something you like the look of
love?” or something like that.
Ah there he goes… the week’s wages are safe again
what I really want to say is “Yes, but never that
– but I let it go with the synchronised swimming smile. What
professional I am. Good job too, because I am so mad at Alan that
I’m tempted to take it out on someone else.
Now here’s an interesting couple. I glance across and catch
Suzie’s eye – I give her the wink that says
couple of likely candidates for the Mile High Club. They look to be
both in their twenties – her hair is similar to mine, short
blonde. She’s wearing a pink FCUK tee shirt and a denim
Almost identical to what I was wearing when Alan proposed to me. And
old muggings here only went and accepted. Hmm, come to think of it this
diamond he gave me might do a bit of damage if I smash it into his
cheating, smug face!
The world seems a
much more peaceful place at 39,000
ft. Good old Jim just delivered the spiel – only six and a
hours and we’ll be on the tarmac in Canada. Then
be no chance of talking to Debs. I’ll have to grab her after
they’ve served up lunch and done the duty free run.
want to wait that long – I’ll see if I can go see
“I’m just going to do the PR thing and smile at the
passengers – back in ten.”
“What you really mean is I’m just off to grovel to
I smile, rumbled. “Don’t forget to lock me
I walk slowly through Business Class, smiling at the passengers who
aren’t either watching a movie or have their noses buried in
their laptops. I know Debs is in Economy this trip –
another thing that will cheer her up – not! I sweep the
aside, and there she is halfway down the cabin. Her short blonde hair
is immaculate, her white blouse accentuates her breasts. And the blue
knee length skirt hugs her figure. She is absolutely gorgeous, and I
love her to bits. She’s rightly proud of that figure and
really hard to get it back after Emma was born. In fact, looking at
her, she’s probably got the best body of any of the Air
Hostie’s on this flight. And in two weeks she’ll be
– well that was the plan, but all of a sudden I’m
Oh I’m sure I want to marry her, but not at all sure the
is true. I can see she’s dealing with a passenger, a huge
Though maybe not, I think it’s the person next to him
“Afternoon, I’m Captain Williams, anything I can
Debs turns to me and I see a flash of anger in those wonderful blue
eyes, but she’s a pro. She explains that Ms Dhariwahl in 23B
to Buddha here is finding it “difficult to get
comfortable”. I’m not surprised –
about six inches of seat to squeeze into by the time the flab has
flopped over into her seat.
“I was just about to see if there’s a free seat in
Class, as there aren’t any in Economy.”
“I know there is,” I smile, and I offer to lead the
As the Michelin man gets up to follow us, I can tell by her voice that
Debs is taking great pleasure in explaining that it’s the
good looking Ms Dhariwahl that’s being upgraded. I could have
sworn I just heard her whispering something about staying and
suffering. I hope that was referring to our body mass challenged friend
and not me.
The delectable Ms D is now installed in Business Class and thanks us
profusely. I steer Debs into the thankfully empty kitchen.
“Don’t you listen me, you cheating bloody snake.
I grab her elbows..
“Debs, it’s not what you
“I don’t need to think anything – I saw
– that bitch of an ex wife of yours all over you! I suppose
‘visiting the kids’ is the latest euphemism for
legover with my ex! Was it any good? What’s the matter
she better than me? Is that it?”
“Debs, it’s not like that …”
“Oh I see, it’s not a regular thing –
just a quick
shag for old times sake..”
Before I can get a word in, a passenger stumbles in and, very
apologetically, asks Debs if she could come and help as some drinks
have spilled. She smiles what she calls her synchronised swimmer smile,
and asks him to lead the way. As she leaves she turns to me and the
smile breaks, and she bears her teeth, her nostrils flare and the blue
eyes pierce my soul in a look of pure anger. Then the smile returns,
and she’s gone.
Dear old 26F doesn’t realise he probably just saved the
captain’s life – well, at least he saved him from
physical injury. Mind you it would be a shame to ruin those looks
– a thirty-five year old Prince Harry with Daniel
body. All that with a naughty little boy grin. The bastard!
What possible explanation could he have? I saw him, and the bitch. I
really thought it was all going to be brilliant – I
think we’ve ever even argued before – but this?
get a grip on yourself and calm down.
Ah well, time to hit the microwaves and feed the hungry hordes. I
wonder how Mr Blobby will do with just one of our deliciously
nutritious meals. He’ll probably eat the plastic cutlery too.
Maybe the carry on bag he’s got with him is a food stash. As
I’m loading up the trolley, Suzie gives me a nudge:
“Hey babe, how was Captain Fantastic? I overheard a bit of a
“”Don’t talk to me about that bloody
snake – if
there had been anything sharper than a plastic knife on board,
he’d be missing a couple of round objects by now.”
“My God, what did he do? Shag Jayne?”
I turn and stare at her, unspeaking.
“Oh no babe! Alan isn’t that stupid, he
She’s a complete cow. I’m sure there’s an
explanation. So what happened?”
I manage to swallow away some tears that have been building up for the
last couple of hours. The taste is bitter in my mouth.
“I was just walking out of the car park at the terminal, and
see bitch face’s car roll up, the twins are in the back and
bastard’s in the passenger seat. He’d told me the
going to be out last night and he was spending some quality time
babysitting the dynamic duo.”
“So she gave him a lift to work, what’s the
I look at her. I can feel the tears creeping up, and the lump growing
in my throat like a cancer. Once again I take a deep breath and fight
“Oh it’s not the lift that worries me. While
giving the twins high fives and hugs, bitch face Jayne gets out of the
car and walks round to him. Then she whispers something to him and
gives him a massive hug and a huge kiss on the lips.”
Silence from Suzie, just a look of sympathy in her eyes. As she gives
me a friendly hug, I can feel those damn tears coming for the third
time. This time I’m not sure I can stop them.
In my mind all I can see is Alan and Jayne putting the twins to bed,
then hopping between the sheets themselves, shagging each other
senseless – and he is pretty good at that I must say. And
as she drops him off she’s whispering “thank you
wonderful night” into his ear. Bloody men, why do they always
think with their dicks and not their brains!
Bloody women, why
do they always think with their
hormones and not their brains! My God, I hope she’s calmed
bit – we’ll be on finals in a couple of hours, and
won’t get the chance to explain before we go our separate
for 3 days. I take a deep breath and head back into battle. Only I
don’t want a battle, I want to hold her, stroke her face and
her. And more than anything else I want to marry her. God,
going to kill Jayne.
I walk into the kitchen; she’s there with Suzie and Geoffrey,
Chief Steward. Suzie suddenly remembers that she and Geoffrey
have to go and sort out a sticking door. She drags him off with a
puzzled look on his face. I look her in the eyes, gorgeous blue eyes,
that are looking a bit red – my fault. I reach up and stroke
face, I hold her head in my hands, and touch the corners of her eyes
with my thumb. I want to say sorry, but the truth is I don’t
anything to be sorry about. Through the tears that I’m gently
rubbing away, she whispers:
“Tell me one good reason that I should bother turning up a
“I’ll give you two. Most important is that I love
bits – and secondly, nothing happened last night –
came home this morning as agreed, and gave me a lift so the horrors
could wave me off.”
“But I saw you – and her …”
“What you saw was an ambush – as we were pulling up
me off, she saw you and said ‘Oh look, there’s your
“But what did she whisper so lovingly in your ear?”
“You want to know? She said ‘I wonder what the tart
I’m saying to you now. I know exactly what she’ll
when I do this’” … I had my bags in my
hand and was
pinned against the car. I couldn’t do anything when she
me. Then she smiled at me and said ‘Enjoy explaining that to
slut!’ – and she left.”
There’s a click and the lavatory door opens. A flushed
blonde girl in pink tee shirt and denim skirt comes cautiously out. She
sees us and stops, Debs turns round to see what I’m looking
I want to cry
again, different tears though this
time. I turn my head to see who Alan’s looking at, and grin.
give her a wink and smile, and mouth “it’s
drags out her partner in crime, who has a combination of sheepish and
smug written on his face. I wish we had certificates to give out.
Alan and I would already have one of course – a flight to
Capetown, the plane was three quarters empty. I look into his eyes, and
can see for the first time today that his boyish grin is back. We look
at each other, then at the open lavatory door …
Ken Orford, 2007