Archive Anecdotage

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I prefer 3A, but it's no big deal. Except..... today, 21st Jan, '97......One of those days.

About four hours into the flight from Gatwick, London, VS 015 to Orlando, I ask the passenger behind in 6H, to stop using my seat-back as a lever every time he wants to get to his feet, because... it's waking me up. I don't mention the involuntary lifting of my eyebrows as he grabs huge chunks of gillanhair in his efforts to rise.

I don't mention it, because.... he's clenching his eyes, wow, eye clenching, one level above seat clenching.

I'm not stupid. (heh).

Instantly, I realise that I'm the one who's in the wrong. This man does not like to be questioned. As he stares ferociously, deciding whether to strike me down or have me thrown off the 'plane in mid-Atlantic, I push my luck. And in the absence of a verbal response I say, almost Oliverian, "Er, do you catch my drift?"

Long pause, more eye clenching, and a very dodgy vibe. He says "I've got a bad leg" (stifle, I'm waiting), he clenches himself totally, he's one big clench. Now we get sarcasm...."In case you hadn't noticed". Well, I admit to myself, he is sitting behind me... should have noticed.

More clenching, then,..... the big one ....." some of us have got crippled brains and that would be you!"

6H semi-coloned off to the rear and gave me cause to think....

Don't worry about the syntax, the man is right. I mean, how DARE I ask a 35-40 year old guy with a limp to do anything other than consider himself. What kind of world am I living in? Who do I think I am?

I stop to consider what my Mother taught me. It was a lesson or two. She said "Son, there's only one thing in life that costs you nothing,'s manners, good manners. Don't be embarassed by saying 'please' and 'thank you' when everyone around you is sullen and demanding. And don't be afraid of smiling naturally in response to a friendly gesture or an open hand; no matter how uncool it may be in front of your mates."

Of course, she didn't say 'uncool' but I caught her drift. She said many wise words, but then, so did my Dad and, though he'd never disagree with Mum, there would always be his little riders.

"Your Mother's right, Son, but when all else fails, including walking away,...."
yes Dad?.......
"Make sure you sling the first punch, and make sure it's agood one. Make sure you believe in your cause and never, never, ever back down.... unless, by some chance, the other fellow sees the error of his ways and offers you his open hand or a drink or, preferably, both; in which case you and your 'friend' will have improved your lives."

Well, I'm closing my eyes now.

If he does it again, I'm going to deck him. Not really. I mean.... he wouldn't dare, would he ?

© Ian Gillan 1997

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