Saturday, August 25, 2012

British Airways

After a final night of festivities with beautiful people, and after a pleasant morning listening to the radio with my wonderful Geordie friend, it was time for me to leave Scotland for the United States of America. Without the kind of hyperbole that often marks my humour, it was the happiest year of my life.

On the cab ride to the airport, passing underneath the dear dark green trees and the grey mid-rise flats, I made two resolutions for my returning. Firstly, I would give veganism yet another go. In America, the temptations of gooseberry custard pots or Yorkshire pudding would exist no longer; veganism would be easy until my American brethren devise more interesting means of making eggs and dairy appetizing. My second resolution was to give up alcohol, at least for the time being. After weeks of tons of tins of Tennants and buckets of Buckfast (for I embraced all aspects of Glaswegian culture), I was boozed-out, having drank as much as would be present at a Boris Yeltsin birthday party.

And so, I boarded my transatlantic British Airways flight, noticing once again that most of the flight attendants were middle-aged men, all stereotypically British, and all quite camp. British Airways must model their attendants after Noël Coward:

 A bald, English flight attendant asked me if I wanted something to drink. Here was the first test. I asked for a tame, respectable cup of water. Kindly the flight attendant obliged. Who needs alcohol?

Then it occurred to me that I had paid quite a lot of money for the flight over. Surely there should be perks, or at least ways of easing the uncomfortable experience of flying. Plus, on this journey, all alcohol would be provided upon request, without charge. What kind of ethanol enthusiast refuses free booze? Finally, I reasoned that two resolutions are a bit much. Being a vegan is, for me personally, easier than being a teetotaller. Why keep two resolutions? Not long before my vegan meal was brought out (and for vegan airline food, it surpassed my expectations in all the most pleasant ways), I asked for red wine.

The vegan meal and the two little bottles of red wine were handed to me by a tall Welshman with a handsome, angular face. When I spotted the beautiful Welshman a second time, I asked for Whisky, and the gentleman, that glorious, wonderful human being, came back with a broad smile and two nips of Johnny Walker Red Label. I silently lamented not having met many other folks from Wales during my stay in Scotland. I wondered if he was related to John Cale, and as that nice whisky warmth soothed and softened blood and body, I seriously contemplated giving him my 1830 copy of The Heart of Mid-Lothian, just for being such an agreeable flight attendant. It must be a difficult job. But instead, I tuned into the on-flight entertainment system, reminiscing with The Smiths and watching an episode of Father Ted.

I can’t remember how many more drinks I asked for, but the Welshman obliged every time. When the bald Englishman returned, I felt smiley drunk, and I decided that something non-alcoholic would suffice. “Tea, please.”

“Why, yes, Sir.” He held out a tray with a paper cup on it.

I reached for the cup.

“Haha, no no, Sir,” said the Englishman, “that’s the sugar! Please put the mug provided with your dinner on to the tray, and I will fill it for you.”

I did so, and he gracefully filled my mug. It was good tea.

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