When Will I Be Famous
Article dated: Tuesday 25 February 2003
Simply click on the link to Amazon and order it there.
Meanwhile, as a free gift, here is a passage you will not find in the book you will be buying two copies of from Amazon, Borders (if you're not going to buy that magazine, put it back!), Waterstones, or Fred's...
Let's join our hero on the Air 2000 flight from Manchester to Palma prior to his cruise on the fabulous Island Escape.....
"...... I really must say the food on their aeroplane over to Palma, where we boarded the boat, was an insult.
I know now why they take your weaponry off you at the airport, because if they did not, the temptation to seek out the joker responsible for the "smoked turkey and cheese melt" and give him a good stabbing would be overpowering. I don't know what got in amongst me more; the abomination itself, or the announcement that we were to be served complimentary tea or coffee, alongside "something from the Air 2000 deli?"
What is really truly frightening is that some smart-arse marketing type has come up with the concept of the "Air 2000 Deli."
He or she probably spent three years in higher education, falling in and out of love with fellow students, wearing stupid trousers, crowding the bar at the Fenton in Leeds so that honest toilers like me have to join the crush or go thirsty. After which there was maybe a post-graduate diploma in "leisure management" or one of those subjects. And what is the end product? The Air 2000 Deli.
What do they think? That we are stupid or something. I saw the 'plane. There was no deli on there, and in any case there is not a deli in the world that would serve the two slices of hot smoked cardboard inside a polystyrene ciabatta that was slung our way, not if it had ambitions to stay in business.
A suggestion to the airline: either stop pretending to serve a free "meal," or take all the money you put into the in-flight magazine, and put it into the catering instead - unless, that is, you have solid evidence that there are people who actually want to read features with titles like Salad Days with Jamie Oliver.
Then again, maybe on an aeroplane is the only place we ever will read guff like that. My theory is that the automatic doors at the airport are fitted with some kind of zapping mechanism that removes up to seventy per cent of your brain power the moment you walk through them.
That is why you will buy those stupid novels from the airport book stall, and pay their stupid prices in the snack bar ("Do those people at the airport have any idea of the prices every place else in the world?" asked the great Jerry Seinfeld, "It's like they've got their own little country there. 'Tuna sandwich, seven dollars. Sorry, tuna's very rare here.'")
Also, I think they keep altering the rules about which barriers you have to show your passport at, and which your tickets, just to fuck with our heads a little more. There you are, a leading journalist, broadcaster, and opinion former, capable of reading books with extremely long words in them, fumbling in your inside pocket for travel documents, while some child in a uniform, wearing the entire contents of the Avon lady's sample case, looks at you like you are a moron.
Then there are those silly questions they insist on asking you - "Are you carrying anything for anybody else?" "Oh yeah, now you mention it, this chap gave me a couple of big bags of cocaine to take on. Said it would make the turkey and cheese melt taste better" - and the safety film they show you on the plane, to which my daughter's response seemed about right: "I've always wanted to go on one of those evacuation slides," she said. "Well you never know, love, we might get lucky."
As if all this were not enough of a downer, when I slip the headphones on to listen to the in-flight audio I hear all sorts of former colleagues coining it - the bastards - doing voice-overs for the airlines.
Palma lifted the spirits, though. With its spruced-up cathedral and numerous excellent bars and restaurants, it never fails to be a treat.
I have visited a number of times, most recently to write a piece for The Guardian about British lager louts in Magaluf, when I had to meet up with a photographer from the local English language paper. He was a classic ageing hippy, a Kiwi in his mid-fifties, who had spent much of his life skippering luxury yachts, and had washed up in Palma, where he was smoking a bit of blow, consorting with unsuitable women, and generally behaving as if it were still the seventies, which of course for most New Zealanders it still is.
We took a fine meal and sufficient wine with a friend of his, another ex-pat waster, in the Yacht Club, at prices which did not raise an eyebrow, even with the dessicated calculating machines at The Guardian, and he turned in some excellent shots.
Most men, I think, will see his kind of rootless, pointless, lifestyle as rather attractive, whereas women look at a chap in his fifties who wears cheesecloth shirts and still listens to his Zeppelin albums, and see a suitable case for either pity or contempt. Another difference between men and women is that most men I know can make do with fewer than seven pairs of shoes."