Back in the Jugg Agane
My Dear Old Top,
Ever wanted to return to the good old days? The ones where of a Sunday we'd saunter off to the local beer garden and wait while our Mums/girlfriends/girlfriends' Mums/mates' girlfriends/mates girlfriends' Mums would put together a cracking roast? Well I do and today not less than most.
It's been a trying old time of late and my missing in action status aboard the good ship is the result. Now we both know that my fastening myself once more unto the skirts of the fickle mistress was never going to be pleasant. Well stout sons of Albion have to make such terrible sacrifices in order to keep the flag flying. Fair do's.
But oh how it does try us.
Take the last two weeks for example. Charged as I am with watching out for nastiness it fell to me to jet half way round this earth to cast my seasoned eye over a clusterfuck of five thousand hawkers of my wares. There to be schooled in the greatness that it is their privilege to gain a living from. Or something like that anyway.
Some might feel aghast at the prospect. Me? I take it on the chin. Bring it on I say. Let all and sundry come unto our temple and feed. Problem is the temple isn't exactly in a Teeming Metrop. Oh no. It isn't actually even near a TM. In fact if you pointed to this gawd-forsaken wilderness on a map, assuming you could find it, or wanted to, then with your other arm fully stretched you wouldn't be able to point to a bona fide TM.
Remote is, I think, the mot juste.
Now, you and I have lived in remote places. I once passed a few weeks in somewhere called Hack-ney so I understand the outer edges of civilisation. Don't care for 'em, but there you go. What was troubling about the locale in question wasn't so much its awfulness, though it had this aplenty, but the plane I had to fly on to get there.
I live, as you know, some way outside the M25. Indeed to get to The Coach and Horses for last orders on a Friday would mean leaving the house a-week-last-Sunday, or something. So I'm resigned to a life of being ministered to by LBFMs or whatever. And most of the time these ladies and left-footers do a reasonable enough job. So long as one avoids airlines from the Land of the 'Free' then one can be reasonably assured of courteous and adequate care.
Alas on this occasion my mission took me deep into the aforementioned Land and so after landing at a vaguely civilised airport (they'd recently cut down the lynching trees) I was required to board an aeroplane staffed by, well, I hardly know where to begin.
Shall we start by saying that the average size of the passenger's attire was similar to that of Mr Giant Haystacks (RIP). Some wore hats last seen on The High Chaparral. I won't swear to it but tobacco may have been chewed. That the car park at our destination would be crammed to the gun whales with pick-up trucks was a thousand to one dead cert. And yes of course they'd have gun racks, where else'd go them varmints they done shooted?
All right. Quite foul enough. At least, we assure ourselves, the aeroplane must be staffed by sentient bipeds able to navigate up and down the aisle?
Now I am full square behind equal rights for all. And frankly I'll even extend that to some Tories (no party - bless 'em) for the sake of argument. But surely, for the love of gawd, it is a pre-requisite that a person can actually fit into the space in which they are to work.
Pause for a moment and gurn as hard as you can. Twist your refined and chiselled features into the closest thing to a horror mask that you can achieve. Yes I realise you've just done a perfectly passable Steve McQueen impression but think of the rest of us. Think of someone who wasn't just hit with the ugly stick but truly embraced it and made it their own. Think of someone who, when hungry (not infrequently I'll wager) picks bits off themselves and manages to put together what many would consider a pretty square meal.
Take this person (gender non-specific) and inflate them to, oh I don't know, shall we say three hundred pounds? (Don't know how much that is in stones, and can't be fagged to work it out, sorry. Actually how many pounds in a stone? Always wondered.) Then squeeze them into a very small aeroplane and, and here's the actual problem (anything else would've been rise above-able), give them a really bad, superior, if-it-wasn't-for-us-you'd-be-speaking-German attitude. Make them xenophobic. Make them patronising. Make them grimace in a look-at-the-monkey way when they hear an accentless voice. Have them ignore the content and stare blankly when English is spoken. Give them lines like 'You! Wan' nu's?' Oh, and tease their hair, make it big, make it 'blonde' in places, load it with napalm-lacquer.
Crushed as I was into the window seat of a small cigar shaped crate I endured the cross eyed stares of this creature for nigh on an hour and a half. Yes I could've entered the fray and put the person straight about a thing or two. But where's the pleasure in that? My mission is to educate and bring the great unwashed along with. Not poke fun at the sentiently-challenged. I bore the stares with the quiet dignity that our old Headmaster would've expected. I landed in the middle of nowhere, helped the assembled masses to understand what was what and then raced back to the OB&C and civilisation.
It was a bloody two weeks and I certainly faced challenges to the left of me and to the right of me. But then as ever (deo gratis and insh'allah) I stuck to the rules of engagement and when strong words had to be dished out I did so with a kindly smile and a tolerant demeanour. Neither reciprocated nor respected but that's not why we do it, is it?
And so here I am back in the study with a view out over the Harbour and a glass of Fuller's London's Finest. I know, hardly the Margaux one would expect but I need a shot of England, not bloody France.
I won't deny Old Top that I miss you and our pals immensely. And the same goes for my dearly beloveds in my most recent home (you remember, the last part of the New World to retain some degree of civility). But I shall carry on and I shall keep my Chin Up and Upper Lip Stiff.
It is the right thing to do.
Your Old Pal,
And that of others I hope,
P.S. Here's a funny thing that happened while I was away. Pal likes shoes with some sporty chap's name on so I bought him a pair. As I was handing over the readies who should beg my pardon for sliding by but none other than the chap who's name was on the shoes. Would've had him scrawl his sig. if I'd the foggiest who he was and what he did. Something to do with hoops and dunking I'm told. Reminds me of Rich Tea biscuits. Ah the youth of today. What.