Friday, 29 June 2012
Tales Of A 1980's Man Down Under - The Wrong Plane
You tend to forget that the cost of plane tickets. It has always been expensive to Australia.
Look at British Airways prices in 1980.
A one-way ticket cost A$1044 - that's about £420-430. Now it's up to anything between A$1544 to 1778 if you want to travel over the next month or two. But nowadays, with the reduced exchange rate that works out to between £1008 and £1161. Quite a difference. I'm no economist so maybe that is a reasonable increase.
I didn't have much luck with planes whilst I was there.
Once after a far too good weekend with friends in Sydney, I got on my Ansett flight at Kingsford Smith Airport, sat down in my alotted seat and daydreamed about the nice time I had just spent, whilst looking forward to being back in Melbourne. I took no notice of the stewardess's standard announcements.
As the engines were starting up, I was abruptly awoken by a gruff voice.
'You're in my seat.' said the stocky man sporting a bushman's hat and R.M.Williams shiny boots.
'Can't be,' I replied. 'Here's my boarding card - it says 17F.'
'Mine says 17F too. Stewardess, stewardess..........' he became apoplectic.
The stewardess snatched the cards out of my hands, before looking at me and without smiling, she said:
'You going to Melbourne?
I felt a rising sense of triumph warming the cockles of my interiors, ignorantly replying 'Yes, naturally.'
'Well not on this plane, you're aren't. This plane is going to Perth.'
The tall stockman took over the feelings of triumphal satisfaction. The word got round the plane and I had to walk the walk of shame with whistles, cheers, rude comments and clapping emanating from every seat.
Of course I know a fall always accompanies pride. Everyone knows that. But do we learn? Some not others.
After a year of living in Australia, I had another humiliating experience. The day before I was due to fly, I went for one final day at Ascot racecourse, Perth's finest track. There was a thunderstorm and as I ran for cover, I neglected to see the loose manhole cover and fell into the drain, pulling all the ligaments in one ankle. So I left Perth Airport in a wheelchair.
My friends stayed with me for a time, but when the British Airways flight was three hours late they went home. I was abandoned in a passageway, unable to move. Airport officials came up and prodded me every so often then abandoned me again.
As I finally got on the plane, a stewardess talked to me in a form of perfect English, which I had long forgotten. 'Now then, sir, what have we been up to? Have you been falling down any manholes recently?'
Smartass, I thought, a psychic or possibly both. Welcome back to a piece of Britain. I had only been in the air for less than ten minutes and already I wanted to go back to Oz.