My conversation, strapped into my seat, yesterday morning.

The lady next to me flexed her fingers and breathed deeply. She sighed. She sighed again.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” she said, “but I’m a very nervous flyer.”

“Oh that’s fine. Will you be okay,” I said, even managing to sound worried.

“Yes, I think so, I’m just always thinking an engine is going to fall off or something.”

“Oh!” I said, reassuring chuckle in my voice. “I’m sure that wouldn’t happen.”

“Why not?” She swung round and stared at me. “It did that time I went to Greece!”

What to do here? Ask? And risk having scary scaredy-lady revisiting trauma in the next seat? I don’t think so. Ignore it. Best way.

“Oh well, then, that’s, that’s…” think of something Anna, something.

“Great! That means you’re pre-disastered! once something big like that happens to you in a little way, it can never happen again in a big way! You’re pre-disastered. It could surely never happen again.”
“I’m sure it could. Bad things are Always happening to me. Always.”

Even I was starting to get nervous now.

“Really? Well, not me. I’ll have you know, I’m an exceptionally lucky person. And you’re sitting next to me. So you’ll be fine. We’ll both be fine.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, my name is Brian, and on behalf of my crew, I’d like to welcome you to flight 77, we’re just securing the plane for take-off. When we do take off, we’ll be heading up to Glasgow, in a pretty straight line. We’ll actually be flying a great deal lower today than usual.”

A squeak from the seat next to me.

“…on instruction from air-traffic control. Whether that’s because it’s exceptionally busy in the air, or short-staffing in the air-traffic-zone, we’re not sure. It’s not unusual.”

Actually, that doesn’t help, Brian. But Thanks.

It took another ten minutes of reassuring chatter to get to the point of calm we’d been at before the pointless pilot, Brainless Brian butted in the first time, and then, wouldn’t you know it, after the doors are closed and te chocks away, just as we’re heading toward the runway.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.”
Bugger off, Brian.

“You may have noticed that we’re taxi-ing very quietly.”

No, we hadn’t. But it’s fine. Let’s say no more about it.

“This is only because the approach to runway is breaking up rather, and we’re going slowly, so as to avoid getting any bits of tarmac in the engine. So you’ll be glad to know, we’ll be on our way proper in a few minutes or so.”

What was this guy thinking? Is this normal? Does this happen on all planes?

The woman next to me was gripping the armrests so hard her elbows turned white. She looked fit to explode. I’m extremely surprised she didn’t get out and walk. I think some part of her did. She was pale and vacant for the rest of the trip.

Which was fine, by the way.

If the gravel-filled engine did fall off? Well, I didn’t notice.

And after, since we were only flying ten metres in the air, it didn’t have far to fall.