I can’t help but notice, as we skim across the Atlantic clouds that some people are incredibly neat sleepers. Blanket-cocooned question marks. I on the other hand am a restless hippo, exposing in turn bare feet, bare midriff or both in a simultaneous loss of decorum. When I wake in the morning my blanket has crawled across the aisle offering allegiance to someone else. Of course it isn’t actually morning; we find ourselves in an artificial time zone of compressed hours, each a fragment shorter than the last, delineated by the rattle of a food trolley. My internal clock refuses to accept the reality of time travel and my eyelids actually feel heavy.
In the rush-half-hour queues for the toilet I forget my little bag of refreshing creams and potions so am forced to dry clean my teeth once back in my seat, the toothpaste thickly refusing to spread. Then I make the error of sampling the other goodies in my pale blue flight pack: the pro-collagen marine cream is now moisturising my creased linen trousers which never do work on an overnight flight. There is nowhere to put the used apricot facial wipe and my fingers all slippery in their marine makeover cannot open the lip salve.
Living abroad has taken some of the gloss off international flights and what once gave me a Cheshire-cat grin (free champagne, serviettes and real plates) is now almost resistible. But I lack the willpower to decline supper completely like some frequent flyers; a glass of red wine will always win. So while they caught an extra ninety minutes of sleep I fidgeted and played with the remote control. Mahi-mahi, sometimes called dolphin but not related, with wilted spinach, which is a good thing by the way though it maybe doesn’t sound so; yes worth sacrificing extra shut-eye when I was that side of the Atlantic, but right now I wish I had slept instead – by some measures the flight is really too short.
Background moments cause brief flashes of familiarity in my memory – the BA music in the safety video, the inrush of cold air on my feet as I flush the toilet, the unmannerly crush to get off the plane first. Then the long walk to passport check and baggage claim. My old style passport lacks an electronic code so I queue for the human check, smile pasted on top of my non-interactive morning self.
The baggage carousel dances and finally ejects our matching wheeled backpacks. We actually have lots of these, it’s one of our joint shopping weaknesses to buy neat versatile luggage and of course, like the middle-aged couple in the old UK TV series Ever Decreasing Circles, we choose to coordinate, though maybe not our clothes these days. Practice runs in packing determine which size we choose and, as usual, my inability to leave out just-in-case-clothes means the smaller bags rarely enjoy vacations.
So, as you surmised, I am off island for a trip. As we left a storm was building up in the Caribbean and this morning has earned a name: Edouard, on track for the Bermuda bypass.