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The unfortunate thing about flying

2006-10-16 12:25

John Oxley

I often pop down to my local, Monty's, and quite happily can spend long hours with a pint in front of me, staring out over the bay towards Table Mountain - at this time of year often with the added pleasure of being able to watch the odd whale or dolphin frolicking in the ocean.

But people won't leave you alone, and inevitably someone will sidle up and start a conversation. And before long the question is asked, "what do you do?"

I used to tell them I was a motoring journalist, and still do, but that invariably leads to more and more questions. So now I start off with, "Well I drive, and I fly. Not necessarily in that order, but a lot of both".

I'm based in Cape Town but much of the motoring action occurs elsewhere. Add in overseas car launches and the odd international motor show and you can see my flying schedule can sometimes get more hectic than my road test tally.

And the unfortunate thing about the flying bit these days is that it's so much wasted time.

You get on the plane, and sit. And wait until it's full, which usually means until it's late. Then you take off, and wait until the aircraft gets to cruising altitude.

I used to get out my laptop and attempt a bit of work, but these days with no space between you and the seat in front, and the middle passenger usually overflowing into my already-meagre space, there's just no room.

So you wait until the food is served.

It's not up to much these days (was it ever?) but when you've been up since 4.15 am you're ready for a bit of brekkie, no matter what. It's how the army got away with feeding troopies fried grasshoppers mixed with bits of blackened bacon and rubber eggs.

Anyway, to get to the point, the other day we waited for 20 minutes (maybe less, but it seemed like it) while the "special meals" were served.

Now there were only a few people who wanted to stay within their dietary or religious preferences, but it took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing before they each got the right ones. And nothing was served to anyone else until this complex operation had been completed.

As I said, it seemed like 20 minutes, and I was beginning to despair of getting MY breakfast before the plane landed.

And I got to thinking, what if ALL the other people on the plane wanted special meals, and I was left as the ONLY person getting the choice of chicken or beef?

After all, the skinny blonde with the long hair and faraway expression next to me who'd ordered a vegetarian (no meat) meal had already finished before I got even a glass of water.

Then there was the chap with the yarmulke three rows in front. He was tucking into his kosher nosh with aplomb, and my mouth was watering at the sight of the lekker-looking omelet and the big Danish pastry.

Across the way was this rather large Indian gentleman, and he'd ordered a Hindu meal, which meant there must definitely NOT be any beef (sacred cow).

In the end, after looking at various offerings, he opted for the vegetarian meal, which comprised a multi-coloured mush served hot with a bread roll and orange juice.

The halaal meal seemed to have a lot of fruit, and why not for breakfast, and there were three people in my field of vision who were enjoying theirs.

The biggest problem though came from the rather insipid-looking middle-aged woman with the lank hair who'd ordered a gluten-free meal.

She got a rice cake, a slab of margarine, one of those little round plastic things with honey in, and a glass of water. She took one look at this lot and called for the purser.

I couldn't hear much of the conversation, but eventually the meal was taken away and she was served vegetarian breakfast from the trolley - before me!

What did I have? A solid lump of scrambled egg, a pale sausage, some mixed-up tomato and onion, and a bread roll.

It didn't taste like much, but hell, by then I was REALLY hungry!


Your car tells tales on you

2006-07-06 07:24

Inside Wheels24

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