27. A Sound Sleep, A Big Breakfast and A Road Trip With Nana

Jakarta Bound is a travelogue about life in one of the largest and most densely populated cities in South East Asia.

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I slept very soundly amidst the soft cotton and deep layers of bedding on my hotel bed. Unlike the Grand Prix Inn, there had been no roar of traffic, noisy neighbours or early morning call to prayer to disturb me. The Javanese tranquillity of the Puri Artha remained silently intact; that is until the insistent, chiming, alarm, rang repetitively from my phone to tell me it was 7am. Morning had come too soon.

With my head enveloped in the plump, padding of pillows and quilt, nothing was more appealing than staying right there in that bed and not moving, so I snoozed my alarm and postponed my awakening for “just ten more minutes”. But it was off again in what seemed like a few seconds, only this time I was ready.

An intense beam of sunshine forced it’s way under a gap in the blackout curtains to sell me another glorious, sunny, South East Asian day, but there was no pitch required. After filling myself up at the breakfast buffet, I would be spending the day being driven through the hills and valleys of Central Java and seeing some sights. With this type of motivation, getting out of bed isn’t the chore it usually is for me. So I sprung out of my quilted pit and into the shower before heading to the al fresco restaurant to see what the breakfast buffet had to offer.

I was expecting a message from reception at around eight to tell me when my driver arrived so I didn’t have a huge amount of time to eat breakfast, which was a shame because there was plenty of it. Fresh fruit and juices, yoghurts, cereals, croissants, cakes, pastries, teas and coffee; there was a chef at the hotplate throwing together freshly made omelettes-to-order and there were also a host of Indonesian style spicy dishes, noodles and rice.

I was one of only a handful of guests who were eating at the time, so there was no waiting or crowding or noisy chatter and clinking of plates and cutlery. I chose a table and had a glass of juice and some fresh fruit to start before the waiter came over to offer me a hot coffee. As he poured I went to the buffet and gathered a collection of the little cakes and pastries and brought them back to the table. I then went to see the hotplate man about an omelette. Whilst the omelette was being put together I got myself some spicy vegetable noodles and some chicken wings; I had a long day ahead of me and I wanted to start it on a full stomach.

Puri Artha Gardens

 

I fully enjoyed my four-course breakfast under the roof of the pagodalike restaurant. As I looked out into the sunny little hotel garden, the delicate sound of trickling water features gently filling the empty silent space, I felt the most at ease and relaxed than I had been since arriving in Indonesia. Although I had only been in the country a couple of weeks, between the preparation for leaving and the initial settling in period, I needed this holiday break.

As I washed down the last of the mini Danish pastries with a mouthful of warm coffee it was almost eight o’clock.I returned to my room and got together everything I would need for the day: phone, camera, sunglasses and wallet. I didn’t want to be encumbered by any unnecessary incidentals. But as eight came and went there was still no call from reception about my driver, so I decided to go and find him.

I walked into the reception area and saw a little Indonesian man sat on the sofa reading a newspaper. He looked up as I approached, seemingly knowing I was his passenger.

“Are you my driver?” I asked.

“Mr Green?” He replied.

“Yes” I said, “Sorry I’m late, I thought someone was going to call to tell me you were here”. He just smiled, stood up and took the hand I offered. He shook my hand weakly, still smiling in the friendly and subservient manner that Indonesian workers do. I suspected straight away that he couldn’t speak English, so I asked; “Do you speak English?”

“No speak English.”

“No English at all?” I asked in frustration – constantly not getting what you’re told your going to get is very, very frustrating.

“No English sir, only speak Indonesia” he replied, his big smile still holding.

I smiled back at him and shook my head with a big, wry, sigh; it’s all you can do when you’re faced with the Groundhog Day of Indonesian ineptitude you faced in this country. I had all day with this driver and he didn’t speak any English, but what was I going to do?

“Ok”, I said, “I was told that you could speak English… err… Ok, well, erm… Ok, well… let’s go then.”

The driver’s name was Nana and he drove an air-conditioned Toyota SUV with tinted windows, so at least we would be comfortable. Although he said he didn’t speak any English, he knew the odd word here and there. Not enough for a conversation, but I had Google translate on my phone so we had the means for the most basic of communication. I told myself it might be a fun experience and an opportunity to learn a bit of Bahasa spending the day with a non-English speaking Indonesian. I had to tell myself something rather than be pissed off about being out all day with a driver who didn’t understand me. Also, since the Puri Artha also advertised a spa and its own in-house ‘beauty therapists’, I decided that after twelve hours of driving and walking around the sights of Central Java, a massage would be the perfect tonic for when I returned.

Before we took to the road, I had to make a stop in town so that I could change some more money, so I loaded up some useful words and phrases on my phone to elicit simple conversation as we set off to the nearest money changer. Nana selected one of only one CD he had to play so that the silence was filled with music; soundtrack 1 – How Much is That Doggie in the Window by Doris Day. This was going to be an interesting trip if nothing else. And even if it was nothing else, coming back to a Javanese massage would be some consolation.

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Kalstar Aviation – Could This be the Worst Airline to Never Make the List?

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No Go at Pangkalan Iskandar Airport

If you’ve travelled a lot over the years you are likely to have had a flight delay or cancellation. It’s inconvenient and frustrating at best, at worst it creates a domino effect of personal catastrophe destroying your carefully coordinated business, work or social plans. However, you’re better late than dead and sometimes delays and cancellations are inevitable for your own personal safety. But commercial air travel is a lucrative business and over the years most airlines have tried to take the edge off the pain for passengers who have to suffer schedule changes. They will provide refreshments, compensation and cover the cost of accommodation in the event of cancellation. With any service provider, some are better than others, but in the world of commercial aviation services, there are good, there are bad, then there’s Kalstar Aviation of Indonesia.

Kalimantan is the Indonesian half of Borneo and the location of the Tanjung Putin Nature Reserve. Borneo/Kalimantan is the only place in the world where you can find orang-utans living in the wild and Tanjung Putin has one of the largest protection and rehabilitation programs for this once endangered species. Thanks to programs like these the orang-utan population on the island has now returned to healthy numbers and it has become a popular location for boat tours where you can see these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat. Obviously this opportunity is limited and there are only two airlines that fly in and out of Pangkalanbun Iskandar airport in Kalimantan – Trigana and Kalstar. You may not have heard of either of these airlines but you’ll find them find both in the 2014 list of airlines banned from flying within the EU, in which Indonesia is well represented (four pages).

The orang-utan of Kalimantan

The orang-utan of Kalimantan

Each airline operates only one or two flights a day out of Pangkalanbun Iskandar airport, which literally closes throughout the night. However, every year land is cleared for farming on the island, which involves a process of scorching the earth – essentially, setting fire to the brush and letting it burn down to the ground, which in turn helps to enrich the soil. Naturally this process generates a lot of smoke, which impedes visibility for pilots and results in delays and sometimes cancellations. This is inevitable, and yes you would think that the logical thing would be for the airlines, farmers and local administration to develop some kind of coordinated consensus to timetable burning and flying in a way that doesn’t cause too much disruption – but this is Indonesia. When you have spent any lengthy period of time in Indonesia you realise that logic is not a strategy that is deployed in much of anything. So having a flight scheduled to leave at 13:15 on 13th October put forward to leave three hours earlier, meaning you have to pay to stay an extra day and change your flight is not good but not a massive surprise. Having to pay Kalstar Aviation for their mistake is pretty bad. Turning up at the airport at 12:00 for a 13:15 flight to find out your new flight has been delayed by two hours, and then sitting around until 17:00 whilst watching Trigana planes land and take off with passengers is absolutely infuriating. But when your flight is cancelled and you’re told that you aren’t entitled to be fed, compensated or put up for the night in a hotel because the delay was caused by the weather, it’s going beyond a joke.

We were a party of eight, which included a feisty Danish woman in her 60’s and she wasn’t prepared to let it lie. Having lived in Indonesia for many years she spoke pretty good Bahasa, so she confronted the staff in the Kalstar office, who seemed pretty unconvinced by their own directive. With a crowd of stranded Indonesian passengers looking on they were under pressure, so in hushed tones they admitted that they wanted to give us ‘special treatment’ but they didn’t want to lose face in front of the people outside. So they suggested that we go to speak to the airline brand manager in Kalimantan. Our tour guide was helping us with our situation and he gave half of our group a ride into the village whilst the rest tried to find out our hotel options.

Perhaps it was an archaic notion of masculine pride and superiority that made Mr Mursalim, the brand manager for Kalstar Airways in Kalimantan, so stubbornly unyielding, because he struck a defiant pose when myself and three middle aged white women, all of whom spoke Indonesian, invaded his office demanding satisfaction – politely of course. Maybe his delicate male ego prevented him from showing any sign of weakness in front of the three young women in headscarves sat at the front desk of the Kalstar Aviation office. Whatever the reason Mr. Mursalim chose to fail on every level of customer service and personal integrity in not even uttering so much as an apology, I can only speculate. But he repeated what we were told at the airport, that we were not entitled to refreshments or accommodation for the night because the problem was caused by the weather. The reason Mr. Mursalim gave as to why Trigana planes could land and take off but Kalstar ones couldn’t was that Trigana had lower safety standards. This may have been the case, but considering both airlines are banned from flying in the EU it was a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Trigana, did have one of their flights cancelled, but they were at least making provisions for overnight accommodation for their stranded passengers, and when I asked a representative at Trigana if it was true that their airline had lower safety standards, he said that their pilot was maybe more experienced. He also said that their airplanes were the newer Boeing 700 jet aircraft whilst Kalstar planes were the older 500’s. So the real reason why Trigana’s customers got to leave Kalimantan was more likely because their planes are better, not because Kalstar are more safety conscious. So not only is Mr. Mursalim, the brand manager of Kalstar Airways in Kalimantan, arrogant and unapologetic towards his customers, he’s also probably slanderous and probably a liar.

Having conceded defeat in our attempt to elicit any grace from Mr Mursalim for his airline’s epic fail, our party of eight – which included two women in their 60’s – had to be driven around Kalimantan to find a hotel that wasn’t full. We then had to scratch together what money we had left to pay for food and accommodation – and we were fortunate. There were people left at the airport who had no knowledge of Indonesia or the language. There were native people who may very well have had little money for alternative accommodation. There were people who, as the rain poured down, we’re literally left stranded in the darkness by Kalstar Aviation.

At around 10.30 pm later that night I and the rest of our party received a message from Kalstar Aviation telling us that our flight was scheduled to leave at 07:25 the following morning, which meant we needed to be at the airport at around 6:30 for check in (this was the first message of any sort I had received from the airline with regard to any of the schedule changes). As far as we knew there wasn’t a flight on their schedule that left at 07:25, but there was one at 10:15. However, we didn’t want to take any chances, even though this meant that we would have to leave before breakfast. Of course we asked for our breakfasts to be packed up to take with us in the morning, and of course the hotel staff said that they would arrange this, and of course, with this being Indonesia, there were no packed breakfasts waiting for us when we checked out at six. So off we went on empty stomachs to the airport to check in for our flight. But of course when we arrived the flight wasn’t even showing up on the screen, which is not too uncommon in Indonesia. Then when it did show up, it read that it was delayed! Fortunately it did arrive – at 10:15!

Relief as Kalamity Air finally arrives for departure

Relief as Kalamity Air finally arrives for departure

When we went to see Mr. Mursalim of Kalstar Aviation the night before, he had made the concluding statement that “This is not America”. This highlighted the ignorance of the man’s character since none of us were actually American citizens. His statement also offended his country and the company he represents, as it implied that we shouldn’t expect efficiency, integrity or even civility from an Indonesian airline. This attitude is not and should not be acceptable in any company or organisation anywhere in the world that has aspirations to progress and improve. It should also be a warning to anyone intending to fly with Kalstar Aviation in the future – don’t. Use another airline. In the face of growing corporate power and the indifference to service that some companies promote, the greatest power any individual consumer has to effect a change in attitude is their freedom of choice. Aside from that, who would want to ruin a great trip by being left stranded in an airport by an airline that couldn’t give a damn about its customers – and actually have to pay for the privilege. Not me.

A letter of no apology from Kalstar Aviation

A letter of no apology from Kalstar Aviation

Specially Brewed Just For You

So, it’s been a while since I put fingertips to keypad and aired my thoughts into the ‘blogosphere’. As the time between my last and my next posting lengthened, finding the inspiration to write something worthy of a ten minute read that didn’t require an effort of concentration on my part has been difficult. But here I am, sat on a Ryanair flight to Budapest and the most unlikely of things have spurred me into action. The menu card. Well not the menu card itself, but the copy accompanying the advertised ‘gourmet’ hot coffee they have for sale at €3.00 a pop.

I could probably go into an intellectual examination of the exaggerated claims (lies) that advertisers and traders get away with to peddle their products, but if you can read then I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to be aware of that obvious fact. But every now and then you see something that makes you think ‘Aw cmon, please!’ My ‘cmon, please’ moment was the copy describing the Lavazza coffee. The ‘gourmet’ Lavazza coffee. A budget airline coffee that comes with a ‘unique’ lid that means that your coffee comes ‘freshly brewed just for you’. Wow! I have to have one of those.

The SUPRLID

Well check that out people – the SUPRLID. Aren’t you blown away? I want to ask the air stewardess if this amazing and unique piece of technical engineering – a lid with a piece of gauze and a raised edge – was developed by NASA. I was so excited by the idea that I was using the same space age hardware used by astronauts. I was even more excited by the idea that Ryanair had created my personal profile based on the information given when buying my flight ticket and brewed a fresh coffee just for me. Not for anyone, no, just for me. Awesome. Totally awesome. I mean, how do they manage to brew a coffee specifically for me? These guys at Ryanair must be like, wizards or something.

I didn’t get to ask the air stewardess if the SUPRLID was developed by NASA or if it was used by astronauts. I didn’t find out how Ryanair collated information to make personal profiles of its passengers in order to provide us with bespoke hot beverages either. My daughter wouldn’t let me ask – she pleaded with me not to ask actually. However, I must admit that the coffee was quite tasty. It was by no means a great coffee, but it wasn’t the usual warm brown dishwater that’s usually served up on a plane either. I’m not sure that the ‘brewed just for you’ crew at Ryanair got it quite right with my personal profiling as it would have tasted more like a milky frothed up Douwe Egberts with demerara sugar, but if I was on a space mission for six months, living on food from a tube, then it would have tasted pretty damn good.

NO CHILDREN OR AIR STEWARDS WERE HARMED DURING THE WRITING OF THIS POSTING. ALL THE SARCASM CONTAINED HEREIN WAS WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL AND SHOULD NOT BE COPIED AT HOME.

50 Questions

I found this list of 50 questions on Joanna Best’s blog. They didn’t originate from Joanne Best, but she had a link on her blog to where she’d got them from. When I clicked that link it took me to ‘A War In My Brain’. Not literally of course, that was the name of Megan’s blog which was where Joanne found the questions. But Megan hadn’t originated the questions either, although she did like cats.

The fact that Megan liked cats didn’t really help me find the origin of the questions. However, the link on her blog led to another lady’s blog who also liked cats called Felina. I don’t mean this lady only liked cats called Felina – that would be pretty limiting; no, I’ve probably just missed a comma there somewhere – Felina was the name of the blogger who also had this list of 50 questions. I think the name of the blog is a play on the word ‘feline’, which is why I think she also likes cats. That and the fact that she has a picture of her tabby cat on her blog. I’m assuming it’s a picture of her cat and that the cat didn’t write the blog, but I don’t know the actual name of the lady who did write the blog either because it’s a ‘sparkle page’ blog, which is a set up I don’t really understand so I couldn’t find her name.

Anyway, Felina – or whatever her real name is – she didn’t have a link to where the questions came from. She just wrote ‘I’ve seen this on some blogs, thought I’d give it a try just for fun’. This pissed me off as I really wanted to know where the questions originated from. Anyway, England and Denmark were playing a friendly and it was about as action packed as a vegan child’s lunchbox, so I decided to answer the questions myself. First I opened a another can of Stella Artois as I’d drank the last of the one of the previous three I’d already had. Here are my answers:

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Yes, my older brother and two sisters. I was the second youngest of five, so my younger brother was named after me.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
The second time I knew I needed a number two after I had my haemorroidectomy – after the first time I was aware of the agonising pain I was about to experience. After that I decided to make sure I was really drunk and high for the rest of the week.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
I’m not too sure, I use a keyboard most of the time, or a touchpad. When I write by hand it’s usually scribbled notes so it’s pretty messy.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LUNCH MEAT?
Jerk chicken served with rice and peas. I don’t want to be a grammar Nazi, but I think this should read ‘luncheon’. But it doesn’t matter because I don’t really do sandwiches, unless it’s a triple-decker bacon and egg sandwich, which I’ll usually have for breakfast, so I guess that doesn’t count.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
No, I’m a male so I don’t have the biological mechanics to have kids.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
I hope not, because that would mean the other person that I would be would be a schizophrenic and I don’t think being schizophrenic would be fun, even if I was another person.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
No.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
No, but I kept my daughter’s because I was really annoyed that I didn’t manage to save all of her baby teeth. At least with tonsils there is just one set so it’s not too hard to keep up. And even if it wanted to, the tooth fairy could never get in that jar because I’ve closed it really tight – ha!

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
I would if it wasn’t so damn expensive.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CEREAL?
Kellogg’s Cornflakes, but for some strange reason I never have cornflakes for breakfast. I tend to eat them after dinner, although I don’t really do desserts.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
They’re already untied when I put them on. I really don’t see any reason to tie them up when I take them off as they can’t go anywhere unless I’m wearing them.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
In relation to someone who is weak, I am most definitely a He Man.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ICE CREAM?
That’s easy – Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Munky.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Whether they try too hard to be likeable.

15. RED OR PINK?
That’s sexist.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
My fickle temperament.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
The first goalscorer in a winning bet. If got that prediction on target every week I would be a rich man.

18. ANY TATTOOS?
Not any, they’re there for life so I’m very particular about the tattoos I choose.

19. DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES?
Yes – writing, Djing, watching movies, watching people, playing football, watching football, getting drunk and partying hard to house music and early 90’s drum and bass.

20. WHAT COLOUR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
I’m not wearing shoes.

21. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
A chocolate Boost bar, a Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut and a packet of Walker’s salt and vinegar crisps.

22. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
The pundits talking about the really boring International friendly between England and Denmark that’s just finished, although I’ve not really noticed that it was still on until now, so technically I’m just hearing it like background noise rather than listening to it. However, for some reason I am listening to the clock ticking on my wall and the rhythm of my fingers hitting the keyboard on my MacBook. A siren went past just then. I’m also aware that I’ve just listened to myself say to myself in my head; ‘you’re a strange man’ upon realising that the main thing I am actually listening to is the sound of me typing and the clock .

23. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE?
A really dark purple.

24. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Freshly talced babies, fields of flowers, the names of which I couldn’t tell you if I was smelling them, the aroma of the air when walking through a pine forest, burning matches, ‘Antaeus’ by Chanel and ‘The One’ by Dolce & Gabanna.

25. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
My mam.

26. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
Beach house.

27. FAVOURITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Football, Wimbledon (quarter finals onwards) and post 60’s to pre-milennium boxing.

28. HAIR COLOUR?
Black

29. EYE COLOUR?
A brown so dark they’re almost black.

30. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
No, I keep them in my phone like everyone else.

31. FAVOURITE FOOD?
My mam’s apple pie is unstoppable. The lamb roast she makes at Christmas and Easter is incredible. My own Caribbean salsa chicken recipe is awesome when it’s right. The jerk chicken and the curry goat and rice they serve at Notting Hill Carnival. Escovitch fish with rice and gungo peas, and the Thai hot and sour soup they serve at Ark Bar on Samui Beach (I love food lots) 😛

32. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Thrillers.

33. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
The last movie I saw was The Good Shepherd, but it was so tediously long and dull that I stopped really watching by the time Angelina Jolie got fed up with being ignored by Matt Damon’s cold, detached CIA husband. The last movie I watched was Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy, but only because I was holding out in the hope that it was going to come good before the end. It didn’t.

34. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
Olive green.

35. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Who likes the winter!? I’m a man filled with Caribbean blood living in Manchester for Christ’s sake, summer is like therapy.

36. HUGS OR KISSES?
Both please.

37. FAVORITE DESSERT?
My mam’s apple pie.

38. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
Jacuzzi.

39. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
Computer feeding movies and mini-series’ through my television. Television is like a social lobotomy.

40. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
I’m writing one and reading several for research. The most interesting and disturbing is ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ by John Perkins.

41. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
My computer, an ashtray, a can of Stella and various receptacles for storing stationary – these questions must have come from the 90’s because nobody uses a mouse pad anymore… do they?

42. FAVOURITE SOUND?
The sea.

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
That’s racist.

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Somewhere out of my mind on LSD.

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I was told by my school teacher that I have ‘great perspicacity’. Aside from that I can pretty much sleep anywhere under any circumstances if I’m tired enough.

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
SM7, St. Mary’s Hospital, Manchester.

47. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
Manchester… I need to move on, really, holidays just aren’t enough.

48. WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR HOUSE?
That’s elitist.

49. WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR CAR?
It will be silver when I eventually clean it again.

50. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 50 QUESTIONS?
It’s better than watching 90 minutes of England in an international friendly with Denmark… but yeah, that was fun. Now can somebody tell me where these questions came from please?

Terminal Madness

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Going nowhere extremely slowly.

The airport procedures involved in travelling by airplane are lengthy and laborious at best. Lots of checking, searching, walking, waiting and standing; yet it never ceases to amaze me how travellers can’t help but fall into the fruitless enchantment of the boarding gate wait. Despite the amount of dragging around of bags and beating of feet on hard marble and concrete floors they do, even seasoned travellers find themselves lured into this futile ritual. Airlines have tried to offer support by prioritising and calling out seat numbers in groups to save people the discomfort of pointlessly standing around for lengthy periods of time, but it’s like a mental illness that effects almost all travellers regardless of age, gender, race or creed.

So you know you’re allocated a specific seat on the plane, right? You also know that no matter what happens you’re not going to be asked to rest your hand luggage on your lap throughout the journey, right? You know that as long as you are at the gate prior to the departure time of your flight that the plane isn’t going to leave without you, right? You can see the seating scattered all around the gate for the purposes of your comfort. So why do you insist on standing up, edging forward one bag shunt at a time, pushing and jostling like a desperate refugee waiting for a food parcel, in a queue that stretches ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty metres back into the airport and has barely moved for the last half hour? It’s absolute madness!

I think this is one of the rare occasions when more mature adults act more childish than the young. Younger travellers tend to be more carefree in this situation. They often seem to just symbiotically merge with whatever formation of authoritative structure is placed in front of them as they laugh and chatter their way through the airport rituals. They’re often drunk or hungover and aren’t really paying attention to anything. As long as they have their bag, their passport and their ticket they’re happy. But the 40 pluses, the families and the retirees who holiday two, three and four times a year, seem to be hypnotically inured to assume formations of rigorous, efficient futility. Furthermore, they will defend that futility with a youthful vigour usually reserved for those evenings when the kids are out or Viagra night.

Maybe it’s years of state indoctrination of subservient adherence to bureaucracy. Maybe it’s a predilection to a domestication instinct to follow the crowd and join a queue. Maybe it’s all just part and parcel of the ritual excitement of travelling to a foreign land in a huge flying metal beast (although I find that hard to accept because people do it on internal and return flights too). Maybe I’m just trying to be nice and it’s simply the idiotic herd mentality of Sheeple.

Whatever it is it’s stupid, so stop doing it. You’re only going to be stood up longer than is necessary. You’re going to be wrestling with other passengers again when you get on the plane because everyone in there is probably a petty, priority Nazi like you. Even if you do get seated quickly, you won’t be able to relax because you’ll be spending the next half hour or more having your knees and elbows assaulted by the rest of the passengers and stewards as they stow away hand luggage and seat themselves.

If you had have showed some restraint and independent thought you would still be sat in the relative calm and comfort of an airport waiting lounge. You would have then entered the cabin of the plane facing a group of predominantly seated and settled passengers, and stewards who are far less agitated. You would also have done a favour to those who were seated before you by relieving them of the chaos caused by the rushing of irrationally impatient passengers onto a stationary aircraft. In short, you wouldn’t be contributing to the already excessive amount of hostile stupidity that plagues the world. You would have made one small, unhurried, step toward being one of the lesser fools of man, and hopefully made one sensible, independent step toward the betterment of mankind.

You see it’s bigger than just the terminal madness of the gate queue. The irrational gate queuers are usually the same idiots who unclip their seat belt as quickly as a sprinter leaves a starting block the moment the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign is switched off. They then jump up to be the first to get their hand luggage out of the overhead compartment, elbows lunging as they drag their belongings out as if there’s a fire. Then they stand in the gangway for twenty minutes clutching their bag, being nothing other than an idiotic obstruction as they wait for the cabin doors to be opened. These same people then rush to get to the baggage carousel in a scrambling hoard in a desperately futile belief that standing by the conveyor belt and staring at the hole in the wall will make their luggage come through quicker than the arbitrary baggage handling process permits. It’s idiotic. I know it’s idiotic because I have been one of those people. Now I know better. And if you have read this then so do you. A holiday is a time for relaxation. Extend that relaxation as far as you can and just wait for the inevitability of the process to run its course, it’s so much easier.