bumped up – the bhazow diaries
First class flying.
Kai Tak airport at 11p.m. on a Thursday night during school holidays appears to be modelled on the celestial clearing house that serves to separate those bound for Purgatory and those more permanently inconvenienced.
– thought Bhazow, who was patiently seated upon a rigid plastic chair in a drafty transit corridor under lights too dim to read by. Now three hours into the waiting period for Flight Q8 to Perth.
His wife Fontana, who had just left him temporarily to again check on the prices of a range of French perfumes at one of the airport shops, was working under the premise that at any time there was an announcement of something in Korean it signified the possibility of a price adjustment on a range of expensive French merchandise.
Untroubled by the logic of her actions Bhazow remained calmly seated whilst keeping secure the five attractively wrapped packages that she had already deposited with him.
Despite the unwanted attentions of a small boy who seemed to have formed a liking for him and who insisted on stating to Bhazow items of a personal nature.
The child’s mother, a well travelled woman who wandered into the corridor from the bar occasionally in order to chastise her son, seemed to have formed an lively association with a tattooed youth wearing an armless shirt and a wide brimmed stetson.
The young man seemed to be incapable of any expression other than an amiable leer and Bhazow wondered at the state of his sensibilites – given that the definitive message printed on the back of his shirt was ‘ Suck, Dope !’
Fontana reappeared once again to add yet another gilt wrapped package to her collection, and after a two minute respite by her husband’s side she appropriated the remainder of his unused foreign currencies and glided away and towards a Marks and Spencer outlet.
The small boy, until now not considered by Bhazow as a child able to discriminate perceptibly, shyly wandered up to him and observed that , ‘ The lady was very pretty, isn’t she. ‘
– and in doing earned himself a pat on the head.
Sometime later flight Q8 was announced for boarding and the three to four hundred people who were to enjoin the aircraft tiredly collected into a ragged queue at the boarding gate to await the convenience of the ticket attendants. Both of whom were attractive young women in Swire suits who were able to work at their monitors amongst the impatient throng of passengers without once raising their heads and meeting anyones eyes.
Bhazow and Fontana waited, fifth in line.
Whereupon they were soon abreast of the gate and about ready to pass through when Annette – as she was name-tagged – asked them to please wait for a moment,
– while she whispered in rapid Cantonese into a small phonepiece attached to the wall.
Fontana, undiminished by the delay, smiled down at her husband’s little friend Kelly – who had remained close by – and found for him a small peppermint from her handbag.
– and Bhazow, numb with fatigue waited patiently for whatever was destined to happen.
‘ Mister Bhazow ? ‘ asked the attendant sweetley,
‘ Hmmm. ‘ he replied
‘ I am happy to inform you that you and your wife have been upgraded on this flight.’
An electric tremor passed through Fontana’s attractive body.
‘ Are you sure ? ’ he questioned not unreasonably, just as his wife inserted her perfectly lacquered fingernail between his fourth and fifth rib. Sign language.
– and a moment later he found himself through the gate and walking the softly carpeted First Class gangway that led to front of the aircraft. Fontana in a commanding lead.
Where they were graciously met by three hostesses and the Senior Flight Purser – Roger.
– and shown into a large room softly lit, resplendent with spacious seats, littered with fresh trays of hors d’ouvres and illuminated by the interior lights of several opened cocktail cabinets.
And another moment later he found himself almost fully reclined, shoes discarded, a large Myers Jamaican Rum at his elbow, a comprehensive menu in his hand, a soft Rachmaninoff melody whispering through his personal speaker and watching his wife examine the contents of a trolley of perfumes and jewellery that had been wheeled conveniently close to her seat. Pre-flight in-seat shopping. A nice touch.
Later, when the aircraft had satisfactorily achieve a cruising height of thirty five thousand feet – an altitude that ensured the safety of the carving trolly that Jennie the hostess had noislessly wheeled to Bhazow’s side – he was asked whether he liked his rare grain fed Queensland beef sliced thick, or thin.
Prior to making the decision he gazed over at his lovely wife who was considering what effect five years in an oaken cask would have on texture of a bottle of 1989 Rothschilds Mileiu, as she waited for her Lobster Thermidor to cool sufficiently to be eaten comfortably.
‘ How was your trip ?’ yelled Tony, Bhazow’s youger brother. Not quite overcoming the rattling cacophony of his fifteen year old station wagon as they careered down the deserted early morning streets of Freemantle. Three boards on the roof, four lobster traps in the back. A smell of old fish and petrol.
‘ Bloody First Class you lucky bastard ! ‘
Fontana placed her lovely hand on Bhazow’s thigh. Squeezed it softly.