No doubt one of the most surreal conversations I have ever had the pleasure to eavesdrop on. So much more so given what we are about to embark on. It is still a flight to Beirut so it’s a slight stretch to say that the rest of the cabin was conservative. However most women were wearing hijabs and most men were incredibly self-serious, focusing on their airplane falafel while Sly Stallone and Bobby De Niro slugged it out in the questionable film Grudge Match in front of them. I slotted in way at the back. With the row to myself I was looking forward to a much-desired snooze. The last two days in the buildup to my departure from London have been riddled with stress and administrative business, the latter something I loathe. It soon became apparent that sleep would be nowhere to be found.
“Tell me he doesn’t look like an Arab Peter Beardsley?!”, Janet muttered to Shaz, pointing at a man passing them on his way to the loo. They’re Geordies and they are boozed, perhaps a redundant statement. After many a joyful exchange between the three of them, a calm Turk with a tender smile came over.
“Excuse me? Why are you visiting Lebanon?”
“We’re goin’ to a party like! My sister’s getting married on Saturday. Get in!”
The man smiles.
“Why are YOU visiting Lebanon?!”, one of lasses retorts.
“My sister lives there. I am going to stay with her for three weeks. I have not seen her in two years.”
“A lot can happen in two years like. She might be ‘orrible now! Maybe you should book a hotel.”
“Thank you for the advice.” The man smirked and continued towards the restroom.
I managed to get a bit of kip before I was eventually awoken by “I’m in Beirut!!!! Get in!” Unfortunately we were still a good 15,000 miles in the air. It quickly became apparent that the hostess had continued to serve them alcohol throughout the flight.
“Ma’am, stop worrying.”
“Is she worried bout them Israeli rockets like?”
“No! They better not have buggered up my bag!! And I’m not worried. I’m just sayin’.”
“They won’t have. Promise you. We’re gonna get skateboards in Beirut and everything’s gonna be fine like!!!”
We finally landed and most people had made their way off the plane. Part of me was eager to stay around these ladies as long as possible to find out what stupid stuff they did next. However one of them refused to get off.
“Peter Beardsley’s stolen me phone”, declares Janet.
“What you talking’ about?! It’s in your purse. I saw you put it in there.”
And off they trotted. Or should I say rolled. Wheelchairs were waiting for two out of three of them. They may be pushing 70 but these lasses have still got it.
“Habibi here I come!!!”
I imagined this plane ride would be a little different in mood from what I was about to jump into on the ground.
By the way I’m not sure what British Airways are doing differently but the lavatories on the new Airbus A321 genuinely smell delightful.