My first infringement was to cross over a non-existent line “get back”, “me?” “Yes you, get back over that line”, “what line?” He looked so angry I decided to keep my mouth shut.
“Do you have any liquids?” “Only sun block that I bought in the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport” says me, trying to look old and frail. “Show me”. I dug into my rucksack. It hid from me, he scowled and I thought “shit, I had better find this quickly otherwise I’m for the high jump”. Finally, I dragged it out. “Ah ha! Too big, I have to confiscate”, but I bought it at the airport”, “I don’t care, you are not coming through here with it”. “OK”, I try to smile sweetly, he looks outraged.
The onward plane to Singapore was an A380-800 capable of taking up to 853 passengers. It’s not natural. An object that heavy shouldn’t be capable of flight. It’s not natural. I had an aisle seat next to a charming French couple. When he realised I was English he was delighted. “Now I can practice my language skills on you.” Great! We had such a fun time trying to understand each other.
As we neared take off time he started looking around for spare seats that he and his wife could move to because, as he said, “I am a big man and need more room”. I finally twigged that he was actually looking for a seat to move me into and immediately volunteered. He leapt at my proposal and pointed out that there was a spare seat just across the aisle “that would be good because we could still converse with one another”.
Feeling very magnanimous I asked the young man across from us if that seat was free. “No, I’m just talking to my friend, but that is my seat”, that meant that he and his friend had an aisle seat each with 2 seats between them. That didn’t seem fair, but after my experience with the German I wasn’t about to argue. OK, there was another aisle seat behind him so I asked the family taking up the other 3 seats if they would mind me joining them. “Why would you want to do that?” Oh hang on, there’s a common thread going on here. “Because this gentleman is very tall and could spread out if I moved” “but what about my son, you will then make him uncomfortable” The son was about 6 and skinny, but maybe she was referring to my corpulence and anyway she did have a point.
When I returned to my seat the first young man asked why I wasn’t moving. I told him that the family behind didn’t want me. He replied with a deadpan face “That’s very unfriendly of them isn’t it?” My NBF then decided to trawl the plane looking for a suitable seat for me and found one. By this time I was beginning to feel as though I was in the middle of a chapter of Alice in Wonderland .
Finally I arrived at my hotel exhausted and was shown into a room that was so small you couldn’t walk around the bed and had to ask for an upgrade costing another S$40 a night. Not an auspicious start. However, after waking at 2.00 am thinking I wouldn’t get back to sleep again, much to my surprise I did and the next thing I knew was that it was 9.00 am and I had had the best sleep for years.
Despite all that palaver my first impressions of Singapore are good. The people at the hotel are delightful, the streets are clean and there us a general air of optimism about the place. Today I went on the hop-on hop-off bus and get a feel for things. Tomorrow I might try to get to grips with the underground train service. Tally Ho!
Oh! One other thing, I can’t get my pictures to upload properly. I may have to wait for “an expert” to help me out and that may be on the ship where wi-fi is exorbitantly expensive. What I’m saying is I am taking photographs, but whether or not I will be able to post them until I get home is another matter.
Oh and one other thing, I had a Singapore Sling (S$30 outrageous!) in Raffles and threw my peanut shells on the floor. Another on off the bucket list!