Leaving the UK

Sunset view out of a plane window
Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash

The plane: I have a great window seat where I can rest my head and fall asleep within seconds. Having not slept properly for the previous 3 nights due to a combination of nerves and milking the fact I’m leaving with several leaving drinks events, this is ideal.

The beginnings of this slumber are interrupted less than 2 minutes in by a dad asking me if I wouldn’t mind swapping with him so that he could be next to his wife and son, who are in the seats next to mine.

I do mind. My seat is a dream. But he is very persuasive and uses much emotional blackmail (his wife is struggling because her mother has just died, he tells me, meanwhile his wife is looking at me with a forlorn face). I don’t have the balls to refuse, and I hate myself for that. The seat I move to is between two big men who make use of the arm rests at all times. I must sleep with my shoulders pushed towards each other, and any slant of my neck means that I am almost kissing one of them.

Also, I have inherited the overly-paranoid-when-travelling Bratt gene, along with Ben. Carriers of this gene can expect to feel suspicious of everyone and thing abroad (and sometimes at home: in London I check for my wallet in my bag 72 times a day). So, on this flight when I get up to use the loo and discover, on my return, that my phone is not in my seat, I panic. One of these men has stolen it. I’m going to a country where there is a high crime rate and they both look like they’re from that country: they’ve definitely stolen it. I start looking around frantically, asking ‘have you seen my phone??’ in a semi-accusatory tone. One of the (actually very kind) men helps me look (I’m convinced this is a ruse) when suddenly I remember I put it away in a wallet with my passport in the overhead locker. I sheepishly pull it out and make a ‘silly me!’ face and the man smiles. I sit down and stew in my own shame and awkwardness. I tell myself this is penance for having been paranoid and prejudiced. Later, my neuroses get the better of me again – in Delhi airport, in sleep-deprived delirium, I mistrust a toilet that says ‘press here to flush’ because it just doesn’t seem like the normal place to flush, then I realise I am MENTAL.

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