The Princess and the Pea.

Let’s face it: 13 hours in an Emirates, Qatar or Qantas 380 is still 13 unlucky hours. A business class seat in an Emirates, Qatar or Qantas 380 is still ultimately a vaguely uncomfortable bed. I have always slept on my belly and despite this, manifestly avoided the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. To compound the theoretical risk, I also confess that I have been a life-long duck-down soft pillow addict. 

These somewhat personal disclosures explain why I not only sleep soundly but silently. I am not a snorer. However I admit openly that I am guilty of the modern cause of bedroom noise pollution – podcasting. 

Anyway the point of all these rather repressed catholic confessions is to set the scene for the saga of the Business Class flat bed. 

The first thing is it’s not bloody FLAT. it’s heads up by several degrees compounded by the lumpy cushion which no matter how viciously I pummel and pound, does not morph into a duck-down pillow at bedtime. “Poor little rich girl” I hear you cry, “guilty as charged” I respond. I empathise with the heroine in that Little Golden Book – The Princess and the Pea. I am still awaiting rescue.

 Secondly there is a gap of several centimetres between the top of my Qantas “flat bed” and the capsule. Through this not insignificant gap, whilst asleep, may fall one’s iPod or worse, an arm. Rescuing the lost iPod from the depths of the business class seat/capsule may require return of the 380 to the maintenance workshop and physical removal of the whole seat. This is a minor hiccup compared to waking up finding one’s dominant arm dangling in the gap between bed and capsule. Should the limb be successfully extracted without the need for amputation, it is invariably completely flail, not recovering completely for several hours and so disabling as to prevent the enjoyment of the pending Business Class breakfast. I may have just as well travelled economy class.

Dubai  airport Again 

Some fascinating observations during the inevitable Dubai airport layover:
It’s bigger than last time a mere 6 months ago! An extra runway and a new terminal and refurbishment of the other. This was a welcome discovery as we taxied to the terminal relatively painlessly! Last year we took so long from touch down to airbridge that we has time enough for the cabin crew to serve breakfast whilst taxi-ing.

The number of B777 and A380 lined up on the tarmac is reminiscent of the hundreds of Tiger Moths that rested on the apron of the aerodromes  at the Australian Elementary Flying Training Schools during WWII
  

The terminal has acres of plastic wooden veneer and an enlarged smoking area thoughtfully designed and situated so that the stench of tobacco smoke permeates a considerable distance into the non smoking areas. Incidentally as a medical specialist I was amazed to learn that Chinese tax free cigarettes apparently do not cause cancer.
   

 
 

How to Bowl a Maiden Over

  

Travelling  light! It has been suggested that I should unpack the pyjamas 

How to Bowl a Maiden  Over

I am not sure what is worse on a long haul flight: The distressed new born infant in the seat behind you or the hyperkinetic group of schoolboys who are representing their school, state or country in sport and who surround you on all sides in the plane. They suffer with terminal akathisia, 

A group of smartly dressed young men in dark blue tracksuits congregate in  the departure lounge. They are all dusky dark skinned with shocks of black hair and trimmed beards.  I assume, as this in an Emirates flight, that they are from the Gulf States. I pluck up the courage to chat to a very sweet sexy young man who is all of 56Kg and a few inches under 5 feet tall. I ask if they are all members of a soccer team? They look look like they should be football (soccer)  players as they are all so trim and thin in a youthful muscular sense. I knew intuitively that they were not members of a ballet corp – sadly. I wondered if they have a national ballet company  in the UAE? Perhaps this dusky fellow traveller is the Prince in Swan Lake?
No he explains in perfect Oxford english they are members of a cricket team and not just any cricket team, but the World Cup Bangladesh squad!  I am seated next to the wicket keeper ( I could  quite happily let my balls go through to him). My hopes are dashed when he asks if I would give up my seat for his wife, who is seated in the next compartment. Negotiations take place between the cabin crew and the rest of the team as we taxi for take off. “Arming the doors and cross checking ” moves down a few boxes on the pre take off check list, relative to ensuring that the wicket keepers wife is safely buckled up next to her beau. So I give up my seat and am placed next to one of the batsmen. It is all sorted out amicably  The team manager gives me a quaint giggle,  a nudge and wink and explains that “the men like to sit next to their wifes”. Well they might in Bangladesh. Many australian men prefer not to sit next to their wifes, or even leave them at the airport.
He (the batsman) has, he assures me in an endearingly adolescent way, made a few centuries. I think twice about asking him about “ducks” in case he misconstrues an innocent question above the roar of the Rolls Royce Trent engines. 
The team are all in Business Class and are weighed down with carry on luggage, trinkets and souvenirs, but no alcohol. Once the frenetic stuffing of carry on luggage is complete, they all settle down, take off shoes, rug up, power up the inflight entertinment, and to a man, tune into the latest Sylvester Stallone shoot up “Expendable 3”. Only the americans can churn out this genre of movie and only the americans can even seriously consider making a sequel. Not just one sequel but a third! It seems rather obvious, even I suspect to our Prime Minister not overly endowed with intellect, that if you make a movie in which the heros are all expendable, the very title has an extreme sense of finality, so there surely can only be one film on the subject?
The coach or manager, who had nudged and winked me into moving to a different seat, was not as trim or taunt as his national eleven. Indeed give him a few years and he will be well onto the way to the Metabolic X sydrome ( that’s the medical term for fat ). He had the seat on the aisle opposite me and did not make even as far as the opening title of “Expendable 3” as he promptly fell asleep in the sitting position and stirred an hour later for dinner, only to fall asleep as he spooned the lentil soup literally into his mouth! Saved by his seat belt from drowning. I suspect he had severe sleep apnoea, rather than Narcolepsy.
I remember vividly my first patient with Narcolepsy who had such a short sleep latency, (the hallmark of Narcolepsy) , that she did exactly  the same thing, most disconcerting at a dinner party.   
Finally one may ask why would the Bangladesh world cup cricket team travel all the way to Dubai then wait 8 hours to catch a flight to Dakah  thus backtracking a few thousand kilometres? An excellent question that crossed my mind too and the answer is that  Emirates sponsored them. So that they all fly with Emirates and Business Class to boot. 
  
Members of the Indonesian Boot Skooting team in transit at Dubai as they head to the annual Western Cavalcade in Wyoming, stopping off in New York on the way 
 
Golf is universal and it seems to be an attraction to wrap your equipment in something furry. The Japanese male is enticed by Australian golf ball carriers made from a kangaroo’s scrotum. Whilst in Dubai try a camel head for the number 1 wood