Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to spot a Brit on a plane


A pal of mine asked me whether I have preprepared posts to be put up when I am away. Well, I guess the answer is no as I have been away for the last couple of days and all I have to show for are two lousy doodles.

Anyway, I meant to write something on the the way back but got restless and gave up just even before the plane took off. Instead, I spent the next two hours or so observing the people on the plane. As the plane was heading towards Heathrow, it would only be logical that most of my fellow passengers were Britons. Actually, with rows and rows of them seated together, it was almost amusing how Britons have the same quirks.

The moment a Brit found their seat among the rows, he would seek to maneuver his hand carry luggage onto the top compartment invariably muttering lots of apologies if he so accidentally touched anyone else. In fact, if he so bumped into an inanimate object, he would first apologize just to make sure that he didn't cause any offense. That would be followed by a series of 'It's alright' should someone bumped into him.

After he settled comfortably onto his seat. He would bring out a novel, always a paperback with at least a thickness of two inches, and chucked into pouch on the back of the seat in front of him. Interestingly, the author of the novel is often non-mainstream; you would be hard-pressed to find a Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, Stephen King or John Grisham among the novels.

It seemed that a substantial paperback was a talisman to the Brit. In fact, it was a bit eerie to see entire rows of people, having secured their paperback in the pouch in front of them, lying back to their seats with a contented look on their faces.

There were exceptions however. There was a teenager who was humming a soft tune while waiting for the plane to give all clear before he could start up his iPod and another man in a business jacket who pondered over his Financial Times as the plane prepared to take off. More about the Financial Times man later.

As if there some agreement beforehand, almost everyone started to flip open their paperback the moment the plane before taxiing to the runaway. Lights off for takeoff? No problem, rows of reading lights were switched on instantly. If you were wondering whether the person sitting next to you is a Brit, that alone would confirm your suspicion.

No one batted an eyelid when the plane took off - their eyes stayed glue to their paperback.

Thirty minutes into the flight, the FT man realised that the world's financial news was no substitute for a good novel. He grew restless and what he did confirmed that he is a true blooded Brit.

From his suitcase, he took out a crossword puzzle. That was no ordinary crossword puzzle for it was torn from some newspaper, preserved for exactly such situation. Wherever it was from, it was definitely not from the FT that he has carelessly discarded.

To complete the picture, he began to fill in the puzzle with a pencil. Yes, a pencil, not a mechanical one, but an actual graphite pencil that required a pencil sharpener. Is there anyone who will actually fly carrying a pencil? I wouldn't be surprised if there was a plastic sharpener in his suitcase as well.

He stayed at the puzzle for the entire duration of the flight and looking up only when the air stewardess asked that he returned the meal table to their original position for landing, oblivious to a chap half sitting diagonally behind, smiling and furiously taking notes mentally.

Ah, back to London at last.

Also read: How to spot a Singaporean on a Plane

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waitingkitty said...

WOW! You are so observant.

SheR. said...

Why do the descriptions sound like my behaviour on the plane?!!!! I swear I'm not English ot Brit!!!1 Yikes yikes...

Eating some Teh C on your behalf. Flying this way anytime soon?

Dutchie said...

Ah, that explained ur blog pause !

For the long haul, we try to leave on the evening flight - a quick glance thru the complimentary copies of newspapers n then settling down to our naps until it's time for the meal.

After catching the movie, we would turned to our pocket book of puzzels followed by another nap, another meal b4 touching down.

Anyone tried the A380 yet ? Saw a clip from mr brown when they flew to London for the SG Day but they probably sat on the lap of luxury !

So CK, was it also just juice n a muesli bar for this short trip ? It irks me when those nordic airlines charges € 2,50 for a cup of coffee when one is already cold n tired b4 stepping onboard. Not that the tix is any cheaper some more :-I

Dutchie said...

SheR !!! Waiting anxiously to hear of ur tai tai life in Sg leh !

C K said...

More like nothing better to do. :)

You mean you actually do crossword puzzles with a pencil on planes? lol

Not flying back anytime soon. How long will you be back home?

I would normally head straight for inflight entertainment. Krisworld has been great, loads of movies, so no complaints there.

I took 380 on my way back home earlier this year. There's more leg room and nothing very different unless you're travelling first class like our dear brown. :)

Well, I normally make do with whatever they serve on the planes. Heard that Ryan air's going to charge for each toilet visit. lol.

Cashmere said...

Hahaha! That was quite entertaining I must say and you're sooo observant. But I bet you can spot a Singaporean ten times easier right?? LOL! ;P

C said...

But of course, just written one on that as well. Cheers!