For the princely sum of £7, whilst waiting for your next flight, you can take a swim in a pool overlooking the airport gates. As I did, in my underwear (who travels with their swimming wear in their hand luggage), I watched life pull in and out for an hour or so.
This is the height of civilization I thought. Singapore alongside Scandinavia. Which together I have called ‘Scandapore’ – a name I coined for any place I travel to, that works with the same tireless efficiency and is able to answer every question with a logical and thought-out answer, as only experienced in the forementioned places. India does not fall into this category. And sadly these days, neither does the UK.
I was late for my next flight and the last person to board. As I swept through the gate, I heard the words, you have been upgraded. Well, I never. A miracle had happened. Since travelling through over 60 countries in economy, cattle-herding or worse, I had never flown Business Class or been upgraded.
I sat down and felt safe in my own enclave on the plane and thought maybe it had been a little excessive to just to stop in to Singapore just for a swim. But as Scottish British Airways stewardess, Elizabeth, handed me a glass of comfort Champagne, I remembered I am now in Business Class… nothing is excessive. Or is that the slogan for First Class – ah well, Business Class is the same to me.
Then I remembered the reason why I have always been so curious about Business Class – the Toilets. The questions returned to me… how big are they inside, is there marble, is there a person in there to spray you with eau de toilette afterwards (excuse the toilet humour)- what is in there? I stormed the toilet. Disappointment overwhelmed me, my face contorted and a tear rolled down my cheek. Shock and horror… It’s all the same as economy! All my dreams of exquisite luxury spoilt by the ill-fated hand of a simple design oversight. No Italian marble in sight.
I sank back into my cave and had some paperwork to finish before putting my head down for sleep. For once I stretched flat out. A new feeling, but strangely familiar. I felt like I was on a train. The sound of the engine, some mild vibration and more important to me, the feeling like you are going somewhere.
Like any child given luxury, and not knowing what do with it, naturally and restlessly I fiddled with the seat controls… up and down… up and down… and flat… and also played with the lighting like a musical instrument, entertainment screen like a keyboard and gratis beauty products, well, like a woman.
A three course meal arrived with four possibly five drinks in concession.
I was gently awoken by another glass, this time of wake-up Champagne. It wasn’t time to wake up but whilst the other passengers slept, I was shown a red-rouge sunrise over the outback. This long expanse of desert, flat and barren, a wasteland in T.S. Eliot’s mind, stretched out as far as the eye could see, filled with the world’s deadliest of snakes (and spiders).
A poem about Rub’ al Khali sprang forth in my mind as I recalled Thesiger’s Arabian Sands I had read a few months ago on a road trip through the Empty Quarter in Oman with Kathy. Not too dissimilar to where I am going I thought. Then remembering Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic experience in Alone, I slid the window blind shut. Sand and snow… Snow and sand… ‘Same same, but different’… a useful sales pitch I picked up in Asia some years ago used to explain and justify everything from fake goods to mistakes on restaurant menyews to things that never really were the same or similar in the first place. I smiled.
Before I knew it, it was morning and I had landed in Sydney. Except, it felt like night. Oh well, there goes my circadian rhythm. Perhaps, I will pick it up on my way back.
Kathy laughed when I called and told her, saying at least you can die now knowing you have flown Business Class. Thank you British Airways. I think they may have heard about this new and popular blog…