Stuck on a Ryanair flight and the smell coming off the guy in front is unbelievable... Somewhere between hot leather shoes full of old pot noodle, and the scent of stomach churning sexual debauchery in an unaired sauna.
As if it's not bad enough already that you're making your way out of paradise and back to a rainy bunch of pricks trying to convince you that Luton is in London. People who name airports are the most delusional guys in the world. Where do you live? North London. Oh yeah, whereabouts? Nottingham. Getting directions from them must be a nightmare... Excuse me, could you tell me where Sainsburys is? Oh yeah, no problem, there's a handy, convenient, well serviced efficient and hygienic Sainsburys not far from here at all. Oh yeah, where's that? Lebanon. London Lebanon, your convenient East London Sainsburys.
As if it's not bad enough that any minute now your flight to "London" is going to dump you in the town that time forgot, you're also dealing with the fog of fungal nail infection smell coming off the guy in front. He must travel with inbuilt fan systems to waft that noxious choking hazard off his vitals and on to you. There's no other explanation for how he's not died in his sleep when his brain commits a mutiny and just chokes him to death.
Being an intelligent brain on a body that just stinks must be so awful. Furiously attempting to distance yourself from the whole thing while everyone around you makes sympathetic eyes at the rotting mound of flesh you're residing in. It's how I imagine I'd feel if I'd been dumb enough to vote Conservative in the last election: furiously paddling away from the British shoreline and praying no one knows the social decay was my fault.
At what point does your nose just give up and refuse to register the acrid stench of fermenting sweat and meat juice filled pores? It must be somewhere between showing your boarding card to the 12 year old flying the plane and noticing you've bought 18 2for1 scratch cards from a lady wearing too much blue mascara. That mascara just dazzles you into making bad decisions... I guess that's why people got away with raping the planet in the 80s... No one had a clue what they were doing. They were all hypnotised into idiocy by blue eyelashes and odd blusher just below the cheekbones. If 70% of your brain function is taken up trying to work out why she's done that to her face, you simply can't be capable of doing anything else correctly. You're sort of sat there, slack jawed staring at her wondering if your creative left hemisphere has collapsed, or if she's had some kind of recent head injury that's knackered her concept of the obvious colour palette for a face. Pneumonia inspired make up needs to be something we leave behind now to mark our progression as a species. It's something we need to brush under the rug and pretend we never did to preserve our self worth; like trusting beloved TV personalities, or believing in Religion.
The journey so far has been like sitting in a recently vacated corn beef tin with some vaguely picturesque views to placate the senses. It's not enough to repair the damage though, it's the equivalent of asking someone to hold some lavender while you stab them.
Waves of it keep floating up over the offensively bright yellow head rest and you've reached a point where you're so engulfed with bleak misery that Wilfred Owen poetry starts to make sense. Except that if Christmas rolled around and the guy in front produced a football you'd eschew any momentous friendly and just choke him to death with it so at least you can do a post Mortem and find out what's gone wrong in the inexcusable mass of fetid crevices and unwashed hair clumps.
The trouble with the war mentality having settled in, is that other people lose faith in humanity and things that would have seemed inexcusable in peace time suddenly become par for the course. It already smells like Hagrid's wank rag, what harm can a little of my own eau de parbum do? Suddenly you're caught in the crossfire of a middle aged woman from Salisbury who's letting loose with a plastic beaker of prosecco and decided to unleash the most middle class fart of all time. It glides effortlessly into the atmosphere and cuts through the heavy funk of psoriasis spores with the charmingly acidic repercussions of someone with a penchant for asparagus. She's blushing and immediately regretting her moment of liberty as people nearby look to her for confirmation. We're not sure whether to burn her, or applaud her ingenuity for cutting the sheer monotony of the relentless cloud of halitosis emanating from row 5.
She's not the only one getting in the action. She's fired the first shot but now more representatives are getting in on the action. There's a stag do up ahead that have been holding on to 48 pints of bubbles since take off and they ooze it out sluggishly, having to innocently shift their weight forward to get it out across the leather seat. Children push forth nuggety little weasely ones that came and go, almost spritely in their nonchalance. An anonymous venom filled low hung vegetarian offering has learnt to sneak along the floor and then blast up suddenly to fill both nostrils entirely at once in a daring raid.
It's an olfactory demonic fire work display of rancid flatulation, filling the cabin and peaking, pitching and rolling for minute after minute as the adrenaline rushes and people begin to realise they could probably just stand up at any point and take a shit on their seat and not a single British person would have the foreign blood necessary to look them in the eye and address the problem. Sure there would be muttering. But who cares about muttering when you're the king of the skies and you've marked your very own territory with a stool to make Solomon proud?
The fireworks continue, without the necessary candy floss and lost child announcements to make it bearable. And there, sitting in the middle of it all, is the bonfire himself. The clueless self awareness vacuum himself, rinsed in his own perspiration, cartoon stink lines emanating from his ears in amongst the green stained ear hair he's accumulated over seven decades. Your very own walking public health hazard, there, in flesh blood and fecal remnants.
Pity forbid anything should happen to the plane and your last gasp of pleasant air was that unassuming final mouthful you didn't even think to savour as you stepped out of the Mediterranean sun and into the gloom of the hot box. They'll find scratch marks in the walls of the plane carving out "He did it" as your oxygen starved brain pulls the pieces together and comes to the conclusion that the shower dodger before you has unwittingly whistled the four horseman with his apocalyptic approach to personal hygiene. He did it! Your suffocating brain will scream as you catapult towards earth, slamming into the parched Italian ground, and as the plane breaks apart, shattering into a million pieces, then will you know heaven. As the walls of that tin smoking bag break apart with a thousand tonne force and the air races through the splinters, you'll take your last breath, mangled in the wreckage, never ever more grateful for the sweet tones of fresh air with it's grassy base notes and light breeze. A swift end is all you need now and you will have know true heaven in your final minute.
Of course, the plane won't crash. The plane marches on through cloud after cloud, inching ever closer to the airport and your train transfer. This is where paranoia sets in. He couldn't be, could he? You're looking him over, checking his footwear, double checking the depth of his tan and his newspaper. Could he live where you live? Could your impending airport liberation be nothing but temporary? What if you board the train, settle into a seat, wait happily for the doors to close, only to see him lumbering towards the door making a beeline for the set of vacant four seats opposite you? I'll move, you think, but then he raises an eyebrow and half nods; the universal indication for "Hello again" to someone you never originally hello'd. You can't move now. It's happening again. Flashbacks roll across your mind's eye, building stormily as the panic creeps up your neck to an instant all over freezing body sweat. There's no Kiefer Sutherland to save you, dear. You're done for...
You shake yourself back into the present on the plane. Don't be silly, you say, he couldn't possibly live where I live. And if he does, I'll get a taxi. All the way to my mums house where I'll just cry until she offers to let me move back in to get over the shock.
This man is a Goliath, he is a Titan, he is an homage to the limitless possibilities of what you can do with a body in a confined space. Every move he makes disperses more idle molecules of invisible nasal insults towards his fellow man, exposing dormant odours from the basest depth of his shadowlands. He is unbeatable.