Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pleasantly surprised

When I checked in for my flight to Tokyo, I saw that there was a seat free in row 28. This was a few rows ahead of where I'd been assigned, and also the row in front of the exit row, so I figured I'd be able to recline my seat fully without feeling any guilt about the knees of the person behind me.

What I hadn't realised was that between row 28 and the exit row there wasn't just a bit of extra legroom. Instead, I'd chosen the row right next to the toilets. I braced myself for eight hours of smelling other people's farts and not being able to put my chair back at all, while the person in front of me battered my patellas.

Things turned out better than expected: despite having a partition wall behind me, my seat would still recline. Most people on the flight had strong bladders and/or sphincters, because there were no ominous smells or noises through the flight.

Best of all, nobody had picked 28B. I had that rising feeling of hope and worry as the plane began to fill up, but nobody ever came to sit beside me, and after an hour of reading reviews of Zone One and then rereading Zone One, I pushed the armrest up and bent myself into a Z shape across the seats, and was out like a light.

I woke up occasionally, once long enough to watch a Japanese thriller called Unfair, which veered between serial killer horror and police action, and felt as if a quarter of the script had been skipped over. Probably while the director was watching the latest Sherlock Holmes and being impressed by all the flashbacks and flashforwards. Then again, it had a man with a nailgun, which was ruddy terrifying. There's often something more visceral about a maniac with a quotidien weapon in a film. Just like the kitchen knife section in City Of Violence is far more gruesome than if it were just men with swords chopping at one another, so the contents of the woodwork cabinet can feel more painful - it feels more real than some ersatz villain with a claw.

It was very cold on the plane, so I was glad for my lack of companion - I got to shelter beneath two blankets. The cabin crew were remarkably friendly and cheerful, which is in marked contrast to any other flight on an American airline that I've had across an ocean. They even got my meal right, which is a wonderful surprise, even when it shouldn't be.

And thus I'm feeling a bit groggy as I sit in Narita, but not deathly. We'll have to see tonight whether sleeping on the plane has banjaxed my diurnal rhythms, but since we've only got 3 more days before we fly to London, it's not going to make much difference. Ah, sweet, sweet dislocation...


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