We staggered onto the plane home, post a celebratory bottle of pop at Frankfurt airport, with the standard Chucklebrother grace that you might expect. Having thought we were bang on time, we realised as we went through that we were in fact late and somehow the last two people on the plane – v off brand for Dad in particular, as he prefers to ram his way on first in the queue to ensure his guitar is first to go up in the overhead lockers. Trying to help Dad find a space for His Most Favourite Mistress (Mistress being the nickname Mum applies to all of his guitar shaped friends) I’d unknowingly blocked the path of a particularly camp air steward, whose upper arms, lower arms and hands were all at perpendicular angles to each other, giving him the appearance of a skinny and harassed T-Rex shuffling along the aisle. He ‘politely’ shoo’d me out of the way, obviously annoyed at my attempts to help, so I went ahead to try and find my seat and left Dad & his new BA chum to it.
As I arrived at my seat, I found someone else sitting in it. Said person was wearing sunglasses indoors (something I abhor), swigging from G&T in a can, and talking to a pretty blonde girl next to him.
“Excuse me, I’m so sorry, I think you’re in my seat – no wait, maybe I’m wrong, let me see, I….ummm…no, defo – yes – 11D, I’m so sorry, see (showing him my boarding pass and getting more English by the second) I think, yes, sorry, I think you might be in my seat.”
After he made a big fat giant production of checking his boarding card, mine, then his own again, he concluded that I was right and sort of apologised while saying I’d have to get up soon because he needed the loo.
After Dad had eventually stowed His Mistress away safely inside the locker, he purposefully marched forward and told the lady on the opposite side of the aisle that she was in his seat. This lady was very young, very skinny and obviously unwell as she was wrapped up beyond all recognition and weeping/snotting into an armful of tissues. She apologised and scurried around to find her boarding pass only for Dad to realise that he in fact had read it wrong, and he wasn’t even in her row, much less, her seat.
“OH GOLLY NO, I do apologise, I’m in the row in front, I’m so sorry!” he blustered. “Please forgive me, do sit down, I’m so sorry – as you were!” He managed, with a hearty and hopeful LOL thrown in at the end to ensure she knew he knew what a spaz he’d been. (I was exhausted already by this point)
Safely up to however many thousands of feet it was, we leveled off and I settled into an episode of ‘30 Rock’ on my laptop. 60 seconds in, and as promised, my G&T swigging friend announced he needed the loo so we’d all have to get up. Note to travellers. When you get up from your seat on a plane, use the back of YOUR OWN CHAIR to steady yourself on your journey. Don’t grab onto the effing seats in front, shaking wobbling and kicking them and, as in this case, grab onto the forehead of my sleeping Dad in front making him leap from his unexpectedly peaceful slumber and nigh on fall into the aisle thanks to you & your hullaballoo. It is completely possible – I’ve tried it – to escape from your seat by using the seats you’re sitting on, so just practice and do it, lest I harrumph and tut at you as you fall out. He finally managed to eek his way out, shouting something about “this is what happens when you sit next to alcoholics like us, bahahahahaha”, which only made me sigh and hate him a little bit more. The fact that most real alcoholics try and hide the fact that they’re pissed, much less get wasted on what I imagine was 2 canned G&T’s, was beyond this chap, and as he weaved his way to the loo, I fear he thought he was way more entertaining that he actually was, and I can confirm he irritated several other people during both his ascent from and descent back into his chair. Safely back in his seat, I had another go at nestling back into my episode. When the lovely trolley lady came around, I decided to go nuts and have a Bloody Mary. Ordering it from her, however, did mean that I had to unplug my ears from headphones, which in turn meant I bore further witness to Mr G&T and his wise words.
“You know it’s soooo much better to order wine because you get more alcohol that way – look – the mini spirits are only 1 shot (wrong anyway, they’re 50mls you knob) and if you get a 14% mini bottle of wine, well you get more pissed, yaaaaaaa, raaaaaa – I’m going to ask for 2 – do you want 2?” he yelled at his pretty blonde chum, who I could tell by her whispered response was desperately trying to make him less loud and visible to the rest of us.
Once again plugged safely back into ’30 Rock’, I soon became aware of more ‘movement’ by my side. “Dear God, what now?” I thought to myself.
After a surreptitious glance to my right, I realised they were sharing headphones and ‘dancing’. At least I think that’s what they were trying to do. It was that same sort of self-conscious head banging & finger wagging you see in people when you first start clubbing, that’s trying to say “we’re so ironic and edgy, and don’t you wish you were as free as we are” but actually says “I wish I hadn’t started this because now I see people are looking at me confused and my neck hurts from bobbing it so roughly, but I feel like I need to carry on till the end of the song.”
I think they eventually tired themselves out because I didn’t hear from them again until we began our descent into Heathrow. Being born and bred in London, I’ll never get tired of the view you get of my beloved city on a clear day, coming in over the estuary and along the river through central London, I still get a thump of pure joy in my tummy when I see it. Ruined only by Sir G&T yelling “THERE’S OUR OFFICE, LOOK! Ya, just there – not that one – THAT ONE!”
Good God, Lemon.
Finally on the ground and through to baggage claim, Dad threw in one last “MEANINGLESS” after the airline had us waiting at the wrong carousel for 30 minutes before telling us the right one, which I felt book-ended the tour rather beautifully.
The conclusion I reached at the end of this tour is that my Dad is a complete legend.
I knew this before, but never more so than the last few weeks. Waiting for our bags, I suddenly had another flashback moment to when I think I must’ve been maybe 6. My friend Becky had just stayed over and, me, her and Dad were driving her back home, and as we approached, Bex saw her Dad and they both beamed at each other, waving frantically till the car stopped and she got out, still beaming and running to hug him, boldly and unashamedly! Being two years older than me, Bex was always my first point of reference when it came to what was and wasn’t cool, and seeing her grinning and leaping at her Dad, I remember, made me think “OK, well if Bex isn’t embarrassed to beam and wave at her Dad in public, then it’s still ok that I do it.” Silly memories like this mean all the more these days – especially as my chum, Bex, just gave birth to her own little girl, Lettie, a couple of weeks ago, thus beginning ‘the next bit’ for all of us, and it does make you appreciate what you’ve got more than ever before.
My Dad has taken on more than he ever signed up for; playing more roles than any one person ever should in every respect. He has been my first point of attack, and my last line of defense on every level, and I couldn’t have done any of this without his love, care, patience & support.
I’ve often questioned the virtue of being in business with my old man; would I be any good without him, will it wind up paying off and is it even the ‘coolest’ thing to do. After this tour I’ve not been left in any doubt.
One by one we’re building up the amazing team who are helping me get to where I need to be but, as far as Dad’s concerned, like the housekeeper in “White Christmas” said to the General, “It’d take 10,000 men to take his place.”
More news to follow soon, peeps, keep listening