I used to love long haul travel on an aeroplane. It was always lots of fun. The fun seemed to start in the bar waiting for the flight, sometimes it would even start the night before, it might of actually started back in 2005 but I can’t be sure. I have quite often enjoyed looking up at the travel information boards with the rest of my travel lemmings, waiting to be told when our flights are likely to leave and it’s always nice to see your destination show up on the screen. The same can’t be said about when you return home from a long haul flight though, to get the connection to your local/domestic airport. This is when you are looking at the ‘board of dreams’, other peoples dreams, that are waiting to be realised- Bangkok, New York, Mauritius, Barbados, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Marrakech and you just wish you could hop on one of those flights and never return to work.

No-one likes being delayed. The great thing about being delayed though is that you can get very, very drunk. I know your not supposed to but, hey.., who cares?, your on holiday.  I have spent a good many hours draining holiday funds in to overpriced airport bars. I won’t spend £4 on a sandwich but I will spend £4.50 on a poorly poured pint just so I can sit at the bar with all the other smug pricks that are already wearing their flip-flops in anticipation of their skin cancer inducing holidays. “Can I get you another?” Damn right you can Pavel, lets do this.

The great thing about Long-haul is that, for now at least, you can have free booze on the plane. Not too much though, as that might affect a health issue in the future… Oh yeah… righto… I’ll have some water then… fuck off! where’s the beer at?

Three of my friends and I, took a long haul flight from London to Los Angeles, We were pretty spannered, (well, I was anyway) and the first thing to do on the flight was to get the air stewards on our side. Sometimes this can be easy, sometimes you just come across as a complete shit-head, today however, our luck was in. Maybe it was my 90’s haircut, leather jacket and a sympathetic (desperate) look in my eyes. Maybe it was the fact that Gooders already looked sunburnt, he definitely had a much more genuine charm than I had but, he is ginger, and maybe they just felt sorry for us. It was most likely, though, that the flight attendants felt sorry for the ladies in our group, (Gooders’ long suffering partner, Pigdog and our wonderful friend Lisa Dee) and they must of thought, “lets give these pricks as much booze as they can handle and then they will just pass out and we can get everyone else on the flight to piss on them before we land.” Well, it seems that Virgin Atlantic were about to have their cherry popped as they obviously didn’t realise just how much the Men and Women of Jersey can drink. To be fair to them though, they kept the drinks coming and coming. It got to a stage where, we didn’t even need to make eye contact let alone press the “Beer bell”. The drinks would just turn up. Personally, I think they fell in love with us. There was one attendant in particular that acted as our personal maid, we may as well of been in first class the way she looked after us. We were asked to fill out a questionnaire on the service we received during the flight and we must of written an essay each. Talk about a glowing report, This lady could of been responsible for world war two and we would of had her receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever. Then we got the news. It wasn’t good. We had been told off a few times for laughing and shouting too much, this was mainly due to the fact that we synchronised the programmes/films we were watching, so that we could laugh together and as anyone knows, if you have headphones on, and talk to anyone unfortunate enough to be in your proximity, you can’t help but shout. Add a seven hour drinking session to this and it is obvious that we might of become a bit loud. (sorry to everyone on that flight) This wasn’t the problem though. We had become quieter and pretty sedate to be honest. I think. Probably not though.

What had happened during the flight, whilst most of the passengers were asleep, was that… somehow… they had run out of beer… and vodka. What the actual Fu…?  Is this a joke. Don’t tell us that.

We’ve just spent half an hour each writing the sort of report that would of put Jimmy Saville as the Head of UNICEF and you’re trying to tell me, you haven’t got any fucking beer left?!

“yes sir, and that’s because ‘you’ve’ drunk it all, and you’ve finished all the vodka”

As she crouched down next to the seat, I could tell she was serious. She had the look of a doctor delivering some world shattering prognosis, the same look you get when someone says “we’ve run out of biscuits”. Things got a bit shit after that. We had managed to drink for 10 of the 11 hour flight so it wasn’t all bad. It was the best service I’ve ever had on Virgin Atlantic.

I’m not sure how we made it out of the airport, I’ll have to thank Lisa and Pigdog for that. What I do know though is our flight had quite a few musicians and artists flying over for Coachella. We met the Arctic Monkeys on our exit from the arrivals hall and Gooders got one of the best photos I’ve ever seen, (see header image, they’re clearly not impressed with us).  I managed to get the Arctic Monkeys to sign my passport as that was all I had to hand. We then managed to call “Mika” a cunt,(if anyone remembers who that is, his music was terrible) and then we proceeded to go out and ended up drinking with a Samoan guy in the B.B Kings Bar but Lisa wasn’t allowed to come due to the fact she wasn’t twenty one yet. Should of stayed on the plane, at least they had wine.

These days though, there isn’t as much drinking or sitting in bars beforehand. These days, I need to be prepared with a range of foodstuffs, nappies, colouring pens and empty containers for baby milk. There needs to be iPads and magazines, spare clothing, wipes and even toilet roll incase some utter bastard uses all the toilet paper on the plane. The amount of piss swilling around the floor of the toilet cubicles is never a nice prospect either.

Recently, whilst returning from Mumbai, we had an “night flight”. It left at two O’clock in the morning. FML. This is not an easy situation with three children but like blades of grass in the wind, they went with it and took the whole situation rather well. I bought some very low quality cheesy crackers and the kids were mostly content,.. mostly. You can have the best intentions for your children regarding health and media consumption but when it comes to travelling on planes, none of it matters. Organic food? Good luck. No fizzy drinks? Yeah right. You will do anything to keep them quiet and still, especially for nine and a half hours. No-one wants to be the person with the loud, annoying, screaming kids. You can’t blame the parents for it – we all want holidays, and unfortunately, it’s not that easy to reason with beings that have no empathy yet. If Peppa Pig is your saviour, you have a long way to go for spiritual enlightenment, in my opinion, but it will do.

The flight was going really well. Two of the kids were asleep on my wife (bonus for me) and I had the littlest one (18 months). I managed to keep her sleeping for a good portion of the flight, I nearly watched the whole of the new Ghostbusters film. (what has become of me) The staff were really good on this flight also. They clearly had sympathy on me and gave me two beers at a time. Nice. I found a really nice fella Called Cormac, who was very sympathetic to my plight,Very helpful. As the breakfast service comes down the aisle, the lights go up, you know that you might only have two hours left. My baby wakes up, plays with my “breakfast” (which did involve curry- I love curry, especially for breakfast) spills the milk, spills the water, slicks back her hair using all of the butter with her fingers and proceeds to eat a napkin instead of anything that resembles food. (Potentially more nutritious?) I can’t help but wonder if she knows something about plane food that I don’t know? We’ve been sweating for a good few hours and I swing between moments of being too hot and or too cold. I’m currently having a ‘hot’ moment. I glance across at my wife and she smiles. it’s such a wonderful smile and it always puts me at ease. The baby throws her arms up, as she has just spent the last six hours on my lap, this is the invitation to be picked up. She’s bored of daddy now. Suddenly, my lap seems uncomfortably cold… “oh fuck” I say out loud. “I’ve just been pissed on”. Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? My wife stifles the obvious laugh and gives me that ‘I’m glad it was you and not me’ look. Thanks darling. Its OK for the baby though- she has a change of clothing but unfortunately, I do not. I must always rememberer to buy branded nappies as the pack i just bought before getting on to this plane, clearly, retain about as much fluid as a sieve in a tsunami. As far as anyone else is concerned, I look like i’ve pissed my self… heavily. I can tell that they feel sorry for my children.

I have to wait a whole hour and a half to land. We arrive… yay. We have to take a shuttle in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and I know I look and smell like a tramp on Christmas day. I can’t even think about getting changed until we collect our bags… and I’ve still got one more flight to catch, and thats after transferring to Gatwick from Heathrow, stinking of piss, and sweat and riddled with some sort self loathing.

“I’m sure this used to be a lot easier?” I said to myself.

This is what I deserve for that flight to LA, isn’t it?

Changing Man