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:
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.