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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Plane Talk: Is This Seat Free?

An amazing exchange before take off puts me off any further conversation

Spending as I do so many hours on airplanes I agree I may be a bit touchy. I mean, there I am trying to get some sleep or read a book but instead I am put off by silly conversations around me. It happens all the time and can drive me to distraction. But this one was different. It happened the other day on a long haul flight just before takeoff. I was quite relaxed and unconcerned looking out of the window when this tall gentleman in a white suit and panama hat came over to the row in front, leaned over and spoke rather loudly to the person sitting in one of the seats. His tone and manner grabbed my attention. It was riveting. I think that by the time you read my recollection of their conversation you too will be sucked into their amazing exchange. Here it is as far as I can remember it.

Gentleman in the panama hat, let's call him Passenger 1 (P1):
P1: Is this seat empty?
Well-built, roughly spoken gentleman, let 's call him Passenger 2 (P2) :
P2: Yes.
P1: Of course it is, what I mean is, is there anybody sitting there?
P2: No.
P1: [whispering] It hasn't been commandeered by anyone who has just gone to spend a penny, by any chance?
P2: No.
P1: So the seat doesn't belong to anybody?
P2: No.
P1: Jolly good, in that case do you mind awfully if I sit here?
P2: Yes.
P1: You do mind if I sit here?
P2: Yes.
P1: But the seat is free, isn't that so?
P2: Yes.
P1: I don't understand. So why do you mind if I sit here?
P2: Because you are a fifty thousand ton ocean-going liner upper class twit. I don't want you sitting anywhere near me. If you sit there I will pin your tongue to the back of your throat so that you will only be able to utter noises through that other passage up which you enjoy spending so much of your time. Do you understand me?
P1: This is fascinating. You see, I travel frequently on ocean liners as well as on airplanes. How could you know that, you're not psychic, are you?
P2: Yes, I am bloody psychic.
P1: How jolly interesting. You must tell me all about it.
P2: No I bloody won't. Now if you carry on for another five seconds I will cut you into pieces, remove your insides, throw them out of the plane, and take home your face to use it as target practise. Now do I make myself clear?
P1: Ah yes, you do. You see, I was an army surgeon until I retired last year. So I'm afraid I've seen lots of soldiers in pieces - a ghastly business. Removing part of the insides, now that is tricky, but I've done that too. And using a face as target practise, well, I grew up with that, it's standard army procedure to use cut out faces for target practise.
It seems we have a lot in common.
May I sit down?

PS: as you may guessed this conversation never took place, it is a pure fantasy on my part. Mind you if anybody like that panama-hatted man wishes to sit next to me on my next flight I will have a firm plan in place....

London 27th July, 2013

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