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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: Travelling by air on a Friday afternoon

I should have known really.

A 13:40 Flybe flight from Manchester to Amsterdam was never going to be a relaxing experience.

If I’m in the air at all at this end of the week, I’m usually heading back towards Manchester, often from Belfast or Dublin.

I surmise that Manchester isn’t a popular destination for stag and hen parties (perhaps an opportunity missed?).

My fellow passengers from Belfast are weary business people and dedicated United fans.

But Friday afternoon at Manchester Airport is a departure point for a variety of weekend booze-up spots, ranging from said Irish ports across to continental Europe, some sunnier Southern climes and including my target for today.

Not for me a weekend of alcohol and weed, the former will only be imbibed with sensitivity to my hosts and the latter has never been on my list of anaesthetics.

I’m here for a combination of work and sensible play.

My flight is 99% male (perhaps a blessing), with an average age I would put around 18-30 and just a few old timers like myself along for the ride.

I guess anybody who has been on such a weekend knows what is in store for them and I will probably see some of the survivors on Sunday afternoon.

We have all been there (and I have no intention of offering any criticism): the majority of such events create behaviour that can mainly be put down to high spirits (sic), with no major violations of the rules of society.

My worst confession is playing an afternoon game of 5-a-side football on an Anglesey village green – naked.

Thankfully, the year would have been about 1984 and nobody was arrested – the locals seem to have locked up their daughters and gone inside – my apologies from the future!

I wonder from whence came the tradition that, before the knot is tied, the respective parties and their friends are required to let their hair down to the extent that eating a cooked breakfast on a Sunday morning becomes a quest of mind over matter?

The assumption is that a future lifetime of enslaved, child-rearing drudgery is envisaged, as a result of which this will be the “last chance” to go wild?

What a sad thought.

I’ve been married twice (so don’t ask me for advice) and don’t recall much of a prenuptial party on either occasion.

Possibly I was rather short of friends back in those days and I seem to recall that before my second marriage I was going through a period of abstention – I must have been great company.

I do, however, recall my 21st birthday celebrations.

The “lads” in the office took me out drinking at lunchtime, a habit I hadn’t cultivated very well – and proceeded to feed me with a diet of beer and whiskey-mac chasers (ugh).

I’ve never since been able to see a bottle of Stone’s Green Ginger Wine without a knot in my guts.

In some pub behind Kendals on Deansgate, Manchester, I last recall trying to focus my independently revolving eye-balls on a row of said shots.

The next thing I remember is my future first wife (who may well be reading this) waking me on a bed in the office sick room, sometime after 17:00, me shooting upright and exclaiming “Im perfectly OK”, at which time she dryly pointed out that I was wearing unusual headgear – a pair of ladies knickers purloined from some obliging female colleague without, I hasten to add, my knowledge.

Our subsequent celebratory evening watching a live performance of Hair in the “gods” (far too distant from the stage to be able to make out the nude singers in any satisfying detail) was a combination of disappointment and nausea.

It occurs that many of my most virulent memories have been before or after periods of alcoholic oblivion – fortunately they are few in number and well spaced.

Which, I suppose, is what my fellow travellers seek – memories (hopefully happy) to share with their grandchildren.

“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”

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