Flying is hell and anyone who says they enjoy it is lying. You are stuck in a metal tube at 40,000ft sitting next to a person with halitosis. Your knees are touching the seat in front and you’ll be like this for the next 12 hours.
Every three or four hours you get some chicken slop in a plastic box which you’ll eat with plastic cutlery. Then if you need to go to the toilet you’ll have to shift your fellow passenger, wait until the toilet’s free and sit in a box that’s no bigger than a coffin. You’ll do an unsatisfying, and disconcerting, skinny poo.
More likely, stage fright, will curtail a release and you’ll have to go through the whole demeaning process 15 minutes later when your bowels start screaming for mercy. If you are really unlucky you’ll fly through a storm and you’ll go through that uncontrollable fear that’ll leave indents on the arms of your seat. If you are in the toilet for a pee, you will piss on your trousers. You’ll exit and everyone in the plane will point out that you have a wet patch. It’s like school all over again.
Once safely in your seat, reeking of stale urine, you experience that ‘Oh lord, we’re going to die’ feeling at every air pocket until basic physics gets a grip and does as it’s told. If there’s any time for lachrymosity, it’s now. You have come to the point that if this is to be your final moments then let’s just get them out of the way.
After 20 minutes the plane exits the storm and the seatbelt lights turn off. The flight reverts to silky smooth and your terror begins to fade. It’s coming to an end but soon the plane will point downwards and you’ll have to go through the whole thing again as it navigates through low-level cumulonimbus hell.
At the ten-minutes-to-landing stage a perfectly coiffured flight attendant offers you a boiled sweetie. This, one assumes, is offered as a way of apology for the next ten minutes of trauma.
As the plane’s altitude descreases you get that feeling that somebody is attempting to crochet an ill-fitting jumper in your earhole. This is the time to start sucking like a baby. Your cheeks narrow as you try to prize the recalcitrant liquid from the sweet-tasting stone that you have in your mouth, but your efforts yield little reward. You’ve only got through the sugar coating.
Then, as the plane makes its approach and you hear that reassuring thunk of an undercarriage being released, you’ll now be convinced that someone is trying to shove a fridge in your ear. The boiled sweet in your mouth has now withered to a razor-sharp slither and it’s carving through flesh. Now the roof of your mouth resembles Wookey Hole. You have a shredded, bloodied mouth as well as a pair of ears that have no remaining function.
It sounds like you are underwater, but as the plane taxis along the runaway you can still hear the text-bleep from the mobile phones of fellow passengers who are convinced that they so unbelievably important that they need to keep the amount of time they are ‘incommunicado’ to an absolute minimum.
Meanwhile, you are looking at a future where sign language, lip-reading and subtitles will form a big part of your life. You simply cannot hear a thing. On leaving the plane the cabin crew lines up like a wedding party and you can just about lip-read the words ‘thank you’. You return the compliment, but because you are now deaf all verbal communication is reduced to incoherent mumble.
The ‘sweetie’ never does the job it’s supposed to do. After two days your hearing is back to normal, and within a few months you’ll probably go through the whole process again where you’ll take the sweetie, but just don’t know why.