night before I left for Bali, I didn't sleep well. At 3am, I was
woken up with the sound of a German Shepherd barking in the stairwell
of the building, and then a searchlight coming in through my window.
I opened the front door of the flat and there were several policemen.
"What's going on?" I asked.
I was told, in an exceedingly soft-spoken
manner, that someone had alerted them to a "suspicious figure"
on the roof below my window.
British police are so polite.
"A suspicious figure?" I said,
mildly mocking his description while at the same time letting
him know that I now feared for my life.
"You mean someone was trying to break
The policeman gave me a look. Even the dog
stopped sniffing for a second and seemed annoyed. "Yes, madam,"
he said, "we're looking into that possibility."
He attempted to reassure me by pointing
out that there were two bicycles on the roof, which meant that
there was indeed rooftop access.
So what? I let him know that those bikes
had been there forever. They shouldn't count. Then he tried to
reassure me that there was no one that he could see. But I let
him know the killer could be crouching down and that he should
go out there and make sure. Then he tried to reassure me that
it was most likely a false alarm. "But how do you know?"
At this point, he gave up trying to reassure
me. "It's fine, madam," he said, "Try to go back
The following morning when I arrived at
Heathrow at 6am, I was thrilled to discover I had been bumped
up to business class. It was a 13-hour flight from London to Kuala
Lumpur and I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep. "You'll
be seated upstairs," the woman at check-in told me. "It's
very quiet there."
I've never looked forward to a 13-hour flight
before but business class meant the seats would turn into beds.
Plus, sitting upstairs? The only time I've ever been upstairs
on a plane is when I once snuck up there to use the toilet and
then lied and said I had a bladder infection so that I wouldn't
get in trouble.
But this time was different. When I got
up there, it was filled with men. Not just men, but giant men,
all dressed in black track suits.
There were about a dozen of them and they
were filling the aisles, with their giant bodies, laughing and
calling out to each other. I was the only woman.
I took my seat and the man seated next to
me looked like The Rock. His bicep was the size of my head. "Hi,"
I said, sounding worried. "Is this a football team?"
No, not football. Rugby. The New Zealand
All Blacks. The entire team.
And me. For 13 hours. Upstairs. I looked
There had to be someone downstairs who wanted
to swap seats with me.
Wasn't this every single girl's dream? To
be stuck in a confined space with some of the fittest men on the
planet? This was what most women hope to win in a raffle - or
bid for in an auction. And all I could think about was how I wouldn't
be able to sleep. I turned to the one next to me and asked, "Do
you think you guys are going to be very loud?"
I didn't think it was such an unreasonable
question. But apparently, the team found it hilarious. From across
the aisle one of them shouted, "What did she ask?" and
the guy next to me shouted back: "She asked if we're going
to be LOUD!" Then they all started laughing. Loudly.
This was not good. As my father later pointed
out, "Expecting the New Zealand rugby team to be quiet on
a 13 hour flight is like expecting The Pope to convert to Judaism.
It ain't gonna happen."
I went downstairs to discuss my situation
with the cabin crew. I told them I needed to sleep. And asked
if I could please switch seats. I was told there were no free
seats left. Business was full.
"Isn't there someone who wants to sit
with a rugby team?" I asked. They said they'd look into it.
I went back upstairs, sat down and immediately,
put my headphones on and pulled out my book. Something the All
Black player seated next to me ignored. He tapped me on the shoulder.
"You want to move?" he asked.
Now I was on the spot. Everyone was looking
at me. Just then, the beautiful Malaysian airhostess showed up
in her tight sarong. "I found a new seat for you" she
said sweetly. I jumped up and grabbed my things. I walked the
gauntlet of their stares, staring back at them, defiant. "Now
you can be as loud as you want," I said. "I won't disturb