THE FEAR

Remember when I said I was so relieved to be able to go on holiday despite the best efforts of the ash cloud, that I wasn’t even feeling a smidgen of my usual fear of flying?

That was before I read this:

[Source: warning, this link is to the Daily Mail, proceed with caution!]

(And oh hey, remember when I said I’d never read the Daily Mail ever again? Wish I’d kept THAT promise…)

You see that, people?  That “terrifying mid-air drama”? That “plunge” from the sky? That “hitting severe turbulence”? That right there would kill me. I would die. And I don’t mean I’d die because I didn’t have my seat belt on (I ALWAYS have my seat belt on…) and I got thrown around the cabin like a rag doll, I mean I’d die because of THE FEAR. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve come very close to dying of THE FEAR on previous flights, and those were ones with only very mild turbulence. Some of them were flights with no turbulence at all, and I still almost died of THE FEAR.

(Two days after 9/11, Terry and I flew back from Spain, where we’d been during the attacks. Naturally, I was terrified, and this was intensified by the fact that the airlines at the time weren’t allowing passengers to bring anything into the cabin at all, so I was denied my usual coping mechanisms of book and music. At one point during the flight I got up to go to the bathroom, which was at the very front of the plane, right in front of the cockpit. As I stood there awaiting my turn, the door to the cockpit opened, and a young woman came out. Seriously, she looked about… twelve, maybe? She looked at me. I looked at her. We both looked at the locked door of the bathroom. “I have to go before you,” the woman suddenly announced, glaring at me. “Because I am the pilot.” I nodded dumbly, and let her go first. Then I stood braced in the doorway of that cockpit, knowing that the only thing standing between a planeload of people and a fiery death at the hands of the maniacs who were almost certainly on board, was… me. I am glad to report that I rose to the occasion. I did not shirk my duty. I protected that cockpit as if my life depended on it – which it basically did, as far as I was concerned – and it was only as I walked back to my seat afterwards that I realised there must’ve been a co-pilot in there anyway, and my fears of the woman never coming out of the bathroom, and me having to guide the plane to safety, guided only by a small team of people on the ground and my sketchy knowledge of Microsoft Flight Simulator were, um, ridiculous. I remained in a state of constant vigilance and total and utter panic for the rest of the flight, though. I’m still in that state now, actually.)

So, readers, please give a warm, Forever Amber welcome to: THE FEAR! It’s back, and it’s bigger than ever! One terrifying mid-air drama, coming right up!*

(*There’s almost almost a terrifing mid-air drama when I fly. Unfortunately, the drama is normally provided by me…)