Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting extracts from my forthcoming new book – this time a novel – provisionally titled “Chav takes a plane”. Feedback welcome!
Filling an aircraft with people is a slow process. Chav bumped his case up a couple of steps each time a traveller disappeared from sight above him. Luckily he had done this before, as well as seen it happen on television, so it wasn’t as if he was worried about being swallowed by a giant bird and anyway, through the portholes he could see people moving, not swimming in avian gastric juices. He imagined trying to explain the procedure to a redneck member of a lost tribe from the Appalachian mountains and reassuring them that yes, even though the wheels did indeed fold up into the fuselage, flying differed to taking a Greyhound bus only in minor details, no chickens allowed on board, that sort of thing.
Once on the plane, case stashed wheels-first in the overhead locker, Chav sat down in his seat, 17E. On his lap he held the brown plastic carrier bag containing the last of Diana’s apples as well as what he suspected was the last cheese and tomato sandwich and a brightly-coloured plastic packet of chewy, gummy, rubbery, slightly sickly pseudo sealife brought along to counteract high-altitude ear-popping. Moments later he was joined by a tall, bearded young lad who sat next to the aisle. More moments later they both got up again to let the occupant of the window seat get by, a young woman who said something to Chav which he missed even though she was speaking in English. Luckily, whilst making the utterance she was also pointing to the seat next to him so he got the gist anyhow.
He hoped she wouldn’t be one of those people that takes the window seat and then doesn’t bother to look out, but to pay extra to reserve your place sounded to Chav like an attempt to buy freedom from the claws of fate, and taking pot luck on the seat you were assigned – even if the lots were drawn by a machine – better reflected his attitude towards determinism. Just imagine you paid to get seat 17F and that was the only one on the plane decimated by a stray meteorite or seared by a blast of green zap from a trigger-happy Klingon.
Chav checked his mobile for the last time before switching it into flight mode. The window-seat girl turned a page in her virtual romance with a dainty finger-swipe across the tablet touchscreen. Chav checked to make sure his seatbelt was tight and half-listened to the cabin staff doing their safety demonstration. The part he always liked best is when they put a lifejacket over their heads and pretend to be blowing it up through the spout should it not inflate automatically when he pulled the cord or if it started to deflate, pummelled by dark, heavy night-time seas. And the whistle that went with it to call the attention of rescuers. And the call to adopt the “Brace! Brace!” position which really did turn out to be the best option in a crash, confirmed in a test in which aeronautical scientists actually wrecked a real jetliner in the Mexican desert the day before their permit ran out, and the test dummies that didn’t put their heads down got hit by flying debris. Mind you, later on he remembered that he hadn’t been watching when they pointed at the nearest exits, which might be behind him. He popped a jelly mermaid into his mouth without biting off its head so that it would not suffer, then promptly chewed and sucked it to death, getting bits of blue fish-tail stuck between his teeth.