Up There Where the Air is Clear


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And so we’re off to Gatwick at 4 o’clock tomorrow morning. Not my favourite thing to do. Aircraft and I don’t really mix. I’m hoping the sheer excitement of the kids (mine and The Incumbent’s) rubs off on me and momentarily lets me forget that I’m bloody terrified of flying. It won’t, of course, but maybe just for a second or two along-the-way I’ll be preoccupied with sheepdogging four youngsters in the right direction rather than concentrating on impending doom at the hands of an Easyjet pilot. I feel sick just typing this. Not having taken a middle-of-the-night flight for years, I’m more than a little concerned that I may not be able to drink my own bodyweight in scotch before I board. Are they open at 5 am? God, I hope so.

I’m not sure quite when this fear of certain excruciating death by plummeting out of the heavens gripped me, but I do wish it would go away. I have tried everything to cure it: Valium, malt whisky, sobbing uncontrollably, soiling myself, but nothing has succeeded in allaying my fears. I don’t like small planes as they get buffetted about by the smallest breeze, and big planes don’t look like like they should be able to stay up. If I walk across the tarmac towards the aircraft I’m always on the lookout for cracks in the wings, or rust on the fuselage. I drive myself nuts.

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This time, I’m sure, the kids will be killing themselves laughing as dad’s head turns purple and his knuckles white as the big orange bird soars into the sky (well that’s the plan anyway). They’ll think it’s hilarious, as I did when I was their age cos my dad always hated flying too. I used to love it, but no longer. Too many bouts of turbulence and dropping the odd-hundred have done for me.

And they keep happening: Flying to Amsterdam a couple of years ago we flew through the tail of that tornado which hit Watford, or wherever. I tell you here and now, we dropped so quickly that my whisky n dry was suspended in mid air, al la Warner Bros cartoons, before rejoining the glass from whence it came some several feet below. I was petrified, and not wanting to give the whisky another chance to make a bid for freedom I introduced it to several similar of its kind already residing in my stomach.

This time, as I’m driving for several hours at the other end, I guess I’ll have to take it easy on the gold watch, and for similar reasons Diazepam is out (Italian coppers don’t like Brits falling asleep at the wheel whilst driving around the Colloseum, and I think the girls would complain too). Imagine my thirst when we finally arrive at our villa, some 4 hours after we land ? Peroni me up, Guido.

See you in a couple of weeks.

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