might surprise some people to learn that while I enjoy talking
on the phone, I do not enjoy listening in to other people’s
phone conversations. Especially when they are on a mobile phone
and especially when they are seated next to me on a plane waiting
to take off.
The only thing worse than being seated next to a crying infant
for a transatlantic flight is being seated next to a crying infant
whose mum is talking into her mobile exploring the possible explanations
for the tears.
“She started four hours ago. She’s been crying the
whole time. No, her nappy is dry. Yes, I burped her. Wind? You
think it might be wind?...OK, I’ll tell her it’s you.”
(Pause) ‘Sweetie, daddy’s on the phone. Here. On the
phone. Talk to him. It’s Da-da. DA-DA. You don’t want
to talk to him? You don’t want to talk to dada?”
(Pause) “She doesn’t want to talk to you. I’ll
call you when we land.”
Recently, I was horrified to discover that airlines will soon
allow mid-air mobile phone use. I read a report that said, “At
last, certain flights on Emirates Airways are allowing passengers
to officially get their calls and texts.”
Are people that busy that they can’t go a few hours without
talking on the phone? And, if they are really that important,
shouldn’t they be able to afford a private jet?
The first flight that authorised calls was between Dubai and Casablanca.
There was one main topic of conversation: How weird it was to
be talking mid-flight. “We’ve taken off and I’m
calling you from the plane! Isn’t that weird?”
But soon, the novelty will wear off and there will be a series
of other topics. For instance:
Topic 1. Reception. “I only have two bars. I can’t
hear you. I SAID: I CAN”T HEAR YOU. CAN YOU HEAR ME? I SAID:
CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
Topic 2. Location. “We’re somewhere over the Pacific.
I don’t know where exactly. I’ll call you back when
the clouds break.”
Topic 3: Confidentiality. “Yes, No. Yes. Uh-huh. Can’t
talk. (Whispering) There’s someone sitting right next to
Topic 4: Torpitude. “Where are you? You’re in Boots?
What shampoo are you buying? Don’t get the dandruff shampoo
it made my scalp itchy.”
Topic 5: Grievance. “They took away my jar of Crème
de la Mer. It was 4.2oz. Oh, and they took away my nail clippers.
And something else. Oh yeah, my tweezers. Make sure there’s
a tweezers at the hotel when I land.”
Topic 6. Drama. “I didn’t catch last nights episode
of Desperate Houewives. What did I miss? Go on - I have loads
of time – start from the beginning.”
Topic 7: Tragedy. “You think it’s malignant? Has it
Topic 8: Therapy. “Let’s make it a double session.
I’ve been having panic attacks again and I need to get into
my abandonment issues.”
Topic 9: Help. “Are you ready? First take the printer out
of he box. I’ll walk you through it. Now plug it in.”
Topic 10: Rejection. “You’re dumping me? Now? While
I’m stuck on a plane? What do you mean you don’t love
me? When did this happen? But I’m pregnant!”
And what about the potential for phone sex? I'll be wearing a
biohazard protection suit on all flights .
What ever happened to having turn off all equipment because it’s
dangerous? An eight-hour transatlantic telephone conversation
from one airborne bore to another is a recipe for air rage.
And will there be a disintiction between calls made in Economy
and those in Business? Because I’d sooner downgrade than
sit next to someone strategising about marketing manouevres.
Also, the list of my questions at check-in is going to get a lot
longer. I’ll want to know if the person seated next to me
has a whiny voice. I’ll want to know if they are chatty
and if their mobile is fully charged.
And what about the pilot? Will he be chatting on his mobile too?
That’s a little unnerving. When they find the black-box
recorder after the crash we’ll find out his last words were,
“Hang on - I’m losing you”