Kiddie Class

Note to self: never catch a flight the day before schools re-open. When I boarded my flight in George after visiting the parents in the Southern Cape, I thought I’d climbed onto a charter flight for the under-aged. A few of the rows were literally full of kids: one, two, three, in a row. Adult supervision was an entire aisle away. Isn’t that a breach of aviation laws or something?

There are two grave dangers when it comes to kiddie-infested flights:

1.      1) screaming
2.      2) seat-kicking
On tonight’s flight, I got the latter very severely.
Within seconds of buckling up, the kid behind me started going for goal. I got a left footer in the small of my back that would’ve made Lionel Messi proud. (A month ago, I would’ve someone if they’d told me that Messi was a famous Mafia boss – gotta love the World Cup!) Anyway, so I slowly turned around in my seat, looked very pointedly at the parental figure sitting next to Junior Messi, and raised my eyebrows, as if to say “You’re a bad parent”. From what I can gather, this is most parents worst nightmare, so I felt a great sense of power when I dispensed my “bad parent” glare.
I was really expecting the woman behind me to have turned puce, before grabbing little Johnny’s spasmodic leg and hissing at him to stop. Tonight, however, the parent in question was one of those “don’t-you-dare-say-A-WORD-about-MY-little-Johnny-because-he’s-completely-perfect-you-COW!”
Now, I do love a challenge, so I put on my best fake smile, raised my eyebrows extra high and said between clenched teeth, “Your…child…is…kicking…my…chair”.
“No, he’s not!” replied Defensive Parent.
“Er, yes. He is.”
“No, he’s not!”
“He totally is and it’s driving me insane.”
“No, he’s not!”
The best fun was, this little Johnny was a wiley one. After 15 minutes of kicking my seat, without stopping, he sat there all doe-eyed with his little feet crossed, acting as though kicking a chair were the FURTHEST thing from his cunning little mind. Grrrrrr. Of course, this gave Defensive Parent the opportunity to turn into Smug Parent and to look back at me and raise HER eyebrows. I was then forced to have a bit of a staring contest with Johnny, trying to will the little brat to kick my chair again – to prove to his mother that he was indeed the pest I was accusing him of being. But Johnny was alot smarter than he looked and he just stared back. At this point, I was forced to concede defeat (something I hate as much as I hated losing at Ludo at the age of 5) and I turned around.
Naturally, not 5 seconds later, the football match against the small of my back resumed.
I could just FEEL little Johnny and his over-protective mother high-fiving behind my back. To give the kid credit, he must have been some kind of genius multi-tasker because the kicking continued all the way through the high-fives.
The rest of the flight was spent trying to block out the sound of blood-curdling screams and “you poked my eyeball, man!”
The joys of flying kiddie class.

Kath & Kim Go´Round the World

Long haul flights in cattle class are always a gas. Last night’s was no exception. I was seated in my safe, little, escapist aisle seat, scanning the passengers as they came down the aisle and playing games with myself to figure out who my neighbour would be. As long as they were skinny and practically mute, I was happy. Of course, the more you hope for Kate Moss’ Russian-speaking, distant cousin, the more likely you are to find yourself next to a 140kg Chatty Pants. As Murphy´s Law would have it, along came one of the largest young lasses I have ever laid eyes on – and plonked herself next to me. Not only did she spill over onto my seat, but she was with her (much smaller) back-packing buddy and they were chatting away in strong, Australian drawls at the top of their voices. It was official, I was on a 10-hour flight with Kath and Kim.

I swear these chicks could hear my thoughts because as I nicknamed them “Kath and Kim” in my head, they cracked open a packet of salt & vinegar crisps. Still munching open-mouthed on her crisps, the smaller chick dialed home on her mobile and I had the pleasure of overhearing her very loud, very lengthy conversation: 

“Mum. Hoi.”
“Yee-ah, so we’re on the plane.
"Een Johannesburg.”
“She hesn’t hed a cigarette een 9 hours en she’s pretty grumpy.”

At which point “grumpy” friend to my left screamed, “hooi-ey!" (I think she meant "hey!”) and elbowed her mate in the ribs. This sent their packet of salt & vinegar crisps crashing to the floor, giving off an even more pungent, vaguely nauseating, vinegary aroma. On the bright side, the demise of the packet of Lays immediately got both girls attention, the chick on the phone yelled “gotta go, Mum!”, and they attempted to dive between the seats to try and retrieve their pre-dinner snacks. Much to the consternation of the Skinny B*tch Air France stewardess who looked on disapprovingly. Which got me really motivated to help Kath and Kim find their packet of Lays. Before I knew it, I was on my hands and knees in the aisle rifling under the seats in front of us, along with the girls. "Got them!¨I yelled triumphantly and the three of us bonded instantly over my successful expedition. The friendship cemented itself when the French cow told me to "Move out of zee way!"
Before I knew it we were chatting away about life back in Mumbaragaloo or wherever and their up-and-coming round the world trip.
What did I learn? That you can´t judge a book by it´s cover – obviously – but also that you truly can´t trust a skinny chef. "Kath" is in her third year at gourmet chef school back in Oz and I´m willing to bet that she cooks like a demon.
Anyway, I´m pleased we made friends because this morning I woke up with my mouth wide open and my head on her shoulder.
"Oh my God, I´m so sorry," I said as soon as I shot up from my slumber.
"No worries!" she grinned and I got a violent whiff of stale salt & vinegar. Then again, I´m sure my breath didn´t exactly smell like Aquafresh because "Kath" reached into her bag and handed me an Australian breath mint. 
Fair enough, mate.

Cape Town International

I’ve always reckoned that a good rule of thumb on 'planes is that if your neighbour hasn’t proved to be Chatty Pants in the first ten minutes, then you’re home free. A couple of weeks ago, though, I realised that I’m going to need to modify this theory on the free booze flights (the few that still exist). Two mini bottles of Chenin Blanc down, my 60-something neighbour decided it was time we met, JUST as we were preparing to land. By this stage all my leave-me-the-eff-alone-accessories had been dutifully packed away (laptop, I-pod, book) and I was left with little option but to speak back.

He was an ex-Joburger who’d emigrated to CT and was a die hard Kaapener my whole life before converting to Jozi-ism. Invariably, we had the “why-Cape-Town-is-so-much-better-than-Joburg” debate. My favourite. No, really. In the same way as Jews for Jesus are even more fervent than their reborn counter-parts, I am constantly shooting my mouth off about how FAN-tastic Joburg is.

Anyhoo, after old Chenin Blanc had run through all the obvious CT selling points (wine, mountains, wine, the new stadium and wine), he launched into his promotional pitch for the new airport. “It’s bigger, better, faster, classier, sharper, hotter, cooler, hipper, better,” etc, etc.

Great,” I thought, a week later. Because, you see, yesterday, I walked Cavendish square STUKKEND for a Christmas present for my darling husband – aka “the-man-who-has-everything-or-if-he-doesn’t-he’ll-buy-it”. (This characteristic of his is fantastic when you need any make or shape of electronic device – pronto, but it’s less fun when you need to buy him a present.) However, given old Chenin’s sales pitch on the super new, super fab airport, I figured I’d simply pick up something there. So NOT. Unless you are looking for a wooden Giraffe carving from not one but TWO curio stores (out of a total of about 8 shops), do not leave your holiday shopping to the last minute. Needless to say, my husband cannot be left cooped up in a security enclosed retail space without being absolutely compelled to contribute to consumer spending. Bless him. Even under the utterly miserable retail conditions in Cape Town’s new international airport, he managed to get some gadgets. (All I can do now is hi-jack his goods and wrap them up as his Christmas gift).

On the bright side, though, Cape Town really has made airport security a mega-priority. I was lucky enough to experience this first hand when I witnessed three uniformed policemen trying to sweet-talk the Premier lounge receptionist into smuggling out free drinks for them. But she was hardcore and she wasn’t having any of it. “Can you see the cameras?” she responded, wagging her finger at them. “There they are”.

Nice one, officers.

Failing in that little endeavour, the Kaap se Coppers decided to amuse themselves in other ways. I happened to be standing at the reception desk at the time.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” the one asked.

Mentally rolling my eyes, I replied that I didn’t think so as I tried to stay on the right side of the law. (I don’t think he saw the irony).

Naai, man,” he said, “aren’t you on the TV?”

Much better, dude.
For that you can have a celebrity smile.