Sotto alla Corona
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Do I sound like Tyra Banks? Good! Ok, as promised in my last post I wanted to share with you my latest bitching and this time it involves British Airways....And the brits in general. No ok, I'm exaggerating. It's mainly concentrating on a particular passenger, seated in the business cabin, two or three rows behind me and Gabriel.
My son is now 21 months old, has just started walking, he is every inch the inquisitive and active little boy he is supposed to be and it's quite difficult to have him to sit still on my lap for longer than 1 minute.
Now, as you can imagine, this can cause quite a problem during a flight, especially during takeoff and landing, when he is supposed to be sitting on my lap, ridiculously strapped to my seatbelt with an oversized and totally inappropriate orange baby-seatbelt (me and Steven had a good laugh about it when we flew back from the US with our then three-weeks old baby in arms that was supposed to be strapped down with an orange seatbelt that was too big to even stay put without slipping off....I mean.... It's bullshit or what?).
So, to cut it short, after having to endure the longest two hour flight to Rome of my life (I was one inch from performing the whole Cirque Du Soleil routine to keep Gabriel entertained in such confined space...), and when it looked like he was happily dozing off in his seat, the time came for the plane to land and for me to strap my son onto me.
This didn't go down well AT ALL and Gabriel began a screaming fit that lasted throughout the landing procedure and got so intense that he threw up all over my hand (yes... I was desperately trying to catch every bit of vomit with my bare hands, as we were about to touch the ground and couldn't reach for wipes or tissues and I was terrified at the thought of arriving in Rome with my clothes covered in vomit...).
Needless to say, the flight attendants were barely looking on, expressionlessly, elbowing each other saying "Uh, look.... He threw up....".
Gabriel was unrelenting in his tantrum, so, as soon as we touched down, I had to quickly undo his belt, then mine, and reach for some baby wipes.
"THE AIRCRAFT IS STILL MOVING SIR!" one of the flight attendants yelled at me, like I was doing something terribly wrong.
"I KNOW! BUT I MUST DO SOMETHING AS YOU LOT ARE SO RELUCTANT TO UNDO YOUR BELTS AND HELP ME!"
I was trembling with anger and frustration. Gabriel's vomit dripping from my hands so that I made a nasty mess all over my seat and the floor.
The whole business cabin was staring at me, like I was some lunatic out of the asylum without meds, some smiled, one italian gentleman simply said "Ah! The joys of being a father!" and smiled knowingly.
But, as Gabriel was still belting out his loudest tantrum yet, another guy just said in a posh british accent "He should just give him a slap!".
Now, I am not really sure about who he was, I didn't really pay much attention, you know, I was busy trying to pick up the pieces of my self esteem as a parent, covered in sick.
But these words hit me like a bullet.
I think I blushed so much I could feel the heat all the way to the tip of my ears.
To make matters worse, the flight attendants chuckled at this idiotic remark, making me feel like I was a teenager being bullied all over again.
As soon as the doors opened, I flew out, with Gabriel still raving, and disappeared inside the terminal.
I felt like shit. I felt like one of those parents people snigger about for not being able to 'control' their kids.
Control their kids.
How do you 'control' a 20 months old boy that just wants to see and touch everything?
I suppose I could always slap him into submission, as it was politely suggested to me, but you know what? I think I'd rather wipe my vomit-covered hands all over that fucking planes' upholstery and the attendants' faces.
Our luggage took about 1hr and 10 minutes to turn up and during this time, Gabriel had finally succumbed to exhaustion and fallen asleep on my shoulder.
Now, try standing for over an hour with a 20 month old child asleep in one arm, whilst with the other you do everything else.
Of course, as I was travelling by myself I opted for checking in the stroller as well, not having enough arms to carry everything.
Said stroller was exactly the very last item to appear on the conveyor belt, in spite of the priority tag on it and my prayers to Jesus, God, Mary and Papa Smurf.
I was one inch from crying in pain.
Then the suitcases arrived and I slammed them onto my trolley with sweat dripping from my nose (we found a very warm weather in Rome, and my four-ply cashmere sweater was just a little bit too toasty....).
I finally came out of the terminal to meet my mum and our driver, sweating like sunday roast, smelling of vomit and with a face like a slapped arse.
Mum was just ecstatic about having her grandchild all for herself for a whole two weeks, so she snatched him out of my arms and left me trailing behind her and the driver, looking like a beaten up dog just out of a fight.
I sent a text to Steven: 'We're here! The weather is amazing! Mum is all over Gabriel and I can't wait to get home and have a shower. P.S. I'm not fucking doing this on my own anymore!'.
The flight back was not less eventful, mainly because Gabriel was then fully able to walk and intended to do so everywhere.
I must say, I never felt most unwelcome on board of a plane as I did then... To keep Gabriel quiet I started walking him up and down the aisle and, while a lot of passengers looked on smiling and passing nice comments, some others were positively put off by the sight of a toddler.
The highest concentration of assholes was of course in the business cabin, where eyes were rolling and foreheads were crumpling up at the very sight of my little Emperor.
We tried to find some diversion by exploring the toilets and the area where the Trolly-Dollies prepare the meals, but I was dismissed unceremoniously:
"This is a working area sir. You need to move!"
"You can't come here sir!"
"There's a trolley behind you waiting to move through sir!"
I was desperately looking for a smile on those pasty faces, thinking that maybe they were only doing their job and reluctantly were telling me to move.
Those dragons were just as friendly as Satan on Xmas morning.
"Any food for you sir?" the lanky blonde attendant asked me as I was wrestling my son trying to reach for the crisps on top of the trolley
"No thanks... I'm fine.... I can't really afford the luxury of a lunch at the moment..." I just replied smiling and hinting at my little one
"Uh.... Why is that?" she asked me looking puzzled
"Well.... This is why!" I said, pointing at Gabriel
"Oh... Right.... Oh well..." she said, and moved on.
Thank you very much bitch.
I remember Steven telling me that on board of BA flights, the flight attendants cannot do enough for children, even offering to sit with them as you consume your meal in peace.
What movie was that?
In this movie the flight attendants were all lanky, old, stern-looking and hard as a piece of fried-up bacon. I think they would've been happier to throw us both out of the plane, rather than sit with Gabriel whilst I wolfed down some food.
Not that I would've wanted them to. But it would've been nice of them to ask.
Also, if it wasn't for me buying some sticker-book in Rome prior to departure, Gabriel would not have had anything to do on board except annoy the attendants with his very presence, as on board there was no colouring book or anything else for children as I would demand from any serious airline catering for all passengers.
Overall, I am now left a bit worried about my next trip to Italy with my son as I know what to expect, not only from him, but from the BA on-board crew.
There is no help whatsoever on their part, the child is yours and yours is the burden, the shame and the inconvenience of getting covered in vomit.
As for me, I'm definitely taking BA out of baby.
Rant over, thanks for listening.