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