Now, you're probably not going to like this, because I'm writing this from home. Not foreign climes. It's part of the Nationwide repertoire to be in foreign climes almost every week at the moment, for a variety of reasons that are all to do with work. Not holiday. Got that. THIS IS NOT A HOLIDAY!
Now, dear reader, do you know what space-available upgrades are? They're the things that airlines occasionally throw out to cattle class economy ticket holders (like Nationwide) whom they want to bump up to the front of the plane, the comfy seats, the champagne swilling, got-your-own-channel-and-pyjamas-cabin you pass through on your way down to the back.
They have legroom. They have big leather armchairs which, on the press of a button, fold down into beds. They are desirable. They also cost a small fortune. So, securing one of these floating divans in the sky is either a case of a second mortgage or a very long slow process of relationships, friendliness, frequent flying, and proving that you will not click open a can of lager, grunt over the Sun and drunkenly snore all the way to the Antipodes should they be foolish enough to give you one. (fnaar fnaar)
So last night, as a guest flying a very, very long way, I failed to get one. I tried, politely, but failed. No matter, I said, I'm on this trip for work so I'll sleep along a middle row of Economy seats, the flight's half empty. But no, the flight filled up very quickly with pasengers from another flight which had been cancelled. Oh well, I thought, I can get one of the economy seats which allow me to sleep. They're at the emergency exit rows, the bulkheads, etc. They have legroom. But no, they were nicked too by the interlopers from flight XYZ.
OK, I thought, grin and bear it, the very nice man has given you an aisle seat, with the window seat beside it vacant so you can do a little light sleeping between episodes of Family Man and some plastic food, crumpled into a ball but able to doze.
But no, the XYZ-ers had filled every vacant seat on the plane. It was jammed to the gunnels. And to make matters worse, my neighbour was a small boy. The reason for that was because he FITTED into the seat which backed onto the toilets, didn't recline (this sounds pathetic, I know) and had legroom into which a wasp, or a small boy, would fit. Nationwide is made more, er, solidly. And didn't fit.
I tried, but couldn't, unless I had my knees up at my chin. The hostess came by and offered me a menu for supper which I'm sure would have been very nice but I'll never know, because I got off the plane. That's right. I GOT OFF THE PLANE!
We had some chat, the cabin staff and me, during which they were trying to do their jobs diligently, and not deal with some prissied up, besuited but genial giant who appeared not to like something but they couldn't figure out what.
So we parted company, I didn't go three quarters of the way around the world to attend a very imporant series of dinners and parties and interviews and suchlike. Instead, I got the Piccadilly Line back into town from Heathrow, ate a biscuit, and went to bed.
And of course, you think I'm perfectly correct, are filled with sympathy for my plight, and undoubtedly consider the (unnamed) airline to be perfectly beastly.