Susan Morrison: Yearning for golden era of air travel

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They don’t seem to say “Cabin doors to manual” any more. It’s very disappointing. I have no idea what it actually meant, but it always sounded exciting. Made you feel part of the crew. It’s one of the many traditions of the air that seem to have vanished.

Cabin crew smiling, that’s another one. I realise that we as passengers on an aircraft now are regarded as 1 – potential purchasers of ridiculously priced snacks and beverages, 2 – potential purchasers of celebrity endorsed bubble bath and 3 – potential security threats, but it would nice to get a ghost of grin now and then.

Of course I realise that life in the skies has changed since the glamour days of the 60s, when the initials BOAC on the side of a VC10 could bring a tear of pride to the eye.

In those days even the crew serving drinks were kitted out in quasi-military neat uniforms, with savagely precise seams, Glengarry hats and dazzling white gloves. Those queens of the trolleys looked like female fighter pilots on parade, like Valkyries of the aisles.

The pilots always had craggy jaws, keen eyes and broad shoulders, I imagine. I say imagine, because we never saw them. They were the unseen gods of the flight deck, only making their presence known when they chose to address us over the tannoy, when they invariably sounded like Roger Moore. I assume elocution lessons were a crucial element of the curriculum for the would-be pilot.

Now of course, it’s all queues and plastic trays and terrifying security staff, who, it has to be said, carry an equally terrifying responsibility on their shoulders. It does take just one to slip through.

But can I just suggest whilst we’ve got the shoes on, shoes off policy could we at least try to heat the floor?

It was Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, as I recall, who led to us all standing there like the sort of people who have been invited to a dinner party at a house with white carpets and an excessively house-proud 
hostess.

Now, back in the 70s, Leila Khaled made quite a career out of hijacking planes. She was notoriously suspected of smuggling her guns aboard one of the flights by shoving them in her bra.

I feel I can speak for the entire civilised world when I say it’s just as well that the world has forgotten Leila and Black September.

My footwear may pass inspection, but no-one is paid enough to see my grimy bra. For one thing, there’s a rogue piece of elastic that could take a security guards left eye out.

Super-suave image let down by his socks

He was wearing a suit that even I recognised as being expensive. The watch on his wrist was not just there to tell the time, it was there to telegraph just how well paid this young man is. That aftershave? I didn’t recognise it, but that’s probably because, quite frankly, I can’t afford it and have never managed to be in the sort of shop that sells it. And heavens above, what sort of ridiculously rare leather was that briefcase in the plastic security tray? Unicorn?

Those shoes must have been Italian.

And those socks? Just as well Christmas is coming up, laddie. Looks like you need something with fewer holes.

Mulled Irn Bru? Eh, nein danke

And speaking of Christmas, can’t help but notice that it’s coming right at us again. You can tell. Princes Street Gardens disappears under a welter of lights and German markets.

I do like a bit of glitter and gluhwein around this time of the year, although I do worry that somewhere in Dresden there is a tiny stall bedecked bravely in tartan ribbons trying to sell the natives of Germany shortbread and hot mulled Irn-Bru and passing it off as “traditional Scottish fayre” in a sort of deranged European Union reciprocal arrangement.

Give me a bus over the trams

I was headed for Bristol, incidentally, hence the excitement at the airport.

I took the tram out. Yes, I did. For those who have not yet tasted the thrill of tram travel, I can report it is quite nice, but a bit boring. I know! Given all the bother and cost they put us to, I was expecting to at least whoosh through not just the city centre, but possibly a black hole and suddenly find myself gliding through a Pleistocene landscape, with mammoths serenely drifting about Corstorphine.

It’s a bit like having high expectations of a gifted child, only to see them spurn a career as a life-saving surgeon in favour of becoming a banker with an expensive watch and holes in their socks.

I took the airport bus back. It was faster and cheaper.