The mile-high insomniac…

NO sleep for 24 hours, so I am writing this to stay awake. We flew out of Perth at 5pm on Friday, which is to say 10am, and we arrived back in York at ten this morning – so the journey took a day, a whole day mostly spent sitting. Sitting and not sleeping.

The flight to Abu-Dhabi took nearly 11 hours, with two hours off to sit in different chairs, then another six hours to Manchester. We had a plan for sleep, or my wife did: stay awake for the long haul, and sleep to Manchester, as that was our night-time, rather than the Aussie night.

It amazes me that anyone can sleep during a flight, as the seats are uncomfortable, the plane is noisy, and time is shredded by those wings: what day is this; was that horrid meal intended as breakfast, dinner or tea? – not that it matters, as the meals were nearly always the same.

At some time early this morning, or late last night, because heaven knows it’s hard to concentrate, I sat in the plane and looked around. The flying tube was in darkness and around me people seemed to be sleeping; my wife was certainly asleep, and reckons she managed 90 minutes. I managed not a slumbered second. Same as on the way out, when none of those hours sitting doing nothing coincided with sleep.

On the outward flight, the man sitting next to me slept for seven or maybe eight hours. He sat down, nodded a greeting, then nodded off, while I twitched and wriggled beside him, taunted by restlessness and an aching bum. Dear me but flying is uncomfortable.

After I complained about my problem, my wife unkindly suggested that was the price you pay for having a skinny arse; but she redeemed herself this morning or yesterday morning or some time or other, by suggesting that I should remove my wallet from my back pocket. I did this and it worked up to a point and those six hours to Manchester were less uncomfortable.

If sleep can be hard to find in your own bed, you are hardly going to impersonate a baby when sitting on a plane. Anyway, I saw plenty of films: Ghost In The Shell (strange but intriguing), My Cousin Rachel (solid good), Gone Girl (solid bad really), Sicario (good) and Spotlight – a fantastic newspaper film based on the real story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Spotlight is exciting, driven and in a sense stands as a love letter to how newspapers used to be before the cuts and other shitty interludes.

I may have seen something else but honestly, I can’t remember. My head is fuzzy, my sense of balance has gone and my legs are wobbly: and alcohol has nothing to do with it.

Flying is frankly awful, but at least you end up somewhere good and have a lovely time. That’s worth the airborne insomnia, the aching bum and endless meals, each one cunningly disguised as the last.

The plan for the rest of today is to stay awake until bedtime, so the hours are looking long.

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