The Christmas vibe continues as we board our next flight, the world’s biggest passenger plane to Singapore. The cabin crew are smiling and singing ‘Silent Night’. Holly wreathes hang from the fuselage walls. The menus have been printed as Christmas cards. There’s a Christmas tree in the galley festooned with white napkins and disused ear sets. Fortunately they’ve stopped short of serving a full Christmas dinner. It will be noodles or rice, because it’s still only the seventh of December. Another eighteen days to the big one.
As flights go, this is the biggie. Ten and a bit hours to Singapore and boy do those hours string out like an endless strand of baubles and just-get-me-theres, a bit like all those promises in a Boris Johnson pre-Brexit speech. The first few hours go happily enough. More gin and tonics, a meal too. Even a movie. But then weariness sinks in – boredom too – and glancing at the Flight Status for the umpteenth time, we’re only level with Sydney and have another seven and a half hours to go.
At this point, it would be good if one of the crew members dressed up as Santa and came down the aisle giving out presents. New pairs of socks, a tin of shortbread, even a retro space hopper. But this would be deeply inappropriate, as many of the passengers are not Christians. All faiths fly in planes, many ethnicities and cultures too. As a responsible global airline, the crew have to cater to a world of diversity.
Then the row of passengers behind us break out into hymn: ‘Oh Come All You Faithful’ followed by ‘God of Ages’. At least this beats the crying babies, the man in seat 57A practising on a trumpet, and the regular chimes of a computer game somewhere. Plus all the entreaties on the PA to purchase duty free. But no – wait – buy one now and get another free! And rubbing my eyes, I realise it’s all dream. For thirty odd seconds I’d fallen asleep. Glancing at the Flight Status again, I sigh as I see it’s now only seven hours and twenty nine minutes to go.
My oh my, this is going to be one long journey. And then when we land at Singapore, no bed, for we have to rush to board another flight – a further three and something hours to fly across the Bay of Bengal to Colombo. This will be a thirty-one hour day. Proper sleep tonight, when it finally arrives, will be well deserved.