Sunday, 27 May 2012


I flew Ezy Jet to France recently.  They are brutal about size restrictions with your carry-on luggage.  So I adopted a practice I’ve seen others do, donning on my person quite a few layers of clothes.  That isn’t as Ezy as you’d think, with respect to:

a) transiting to the airport during one of England’s first warm days;

b) getting your gear off (and on) to pass through Security;

c) putting up with the extra weight in an over-heated departure lounge which hasn’t yet been adjusted to summer temperatures; and

d) trying to look cool and unencumbered at the Gate when it’s obvious you’re fooling no-one. 

There were, however, a few humorous advantages. 

First, a lady in a coffee-shop was sufficiently amused that when I struggled in my wallet to find ₤2.15 for a pre-flight cappuccino… and could only come up with the grand sum of ₤2.10… she gave me the cappuccino anyway with a 5p discount.  Sweet.    

(Ok, it wasn’t exactly that simple, as I teased her into doing it for me because I didn’t want to break a ₤20 note and be loaded up with lots of soon-to-be-foreign change!)

Then the fun really started. 

I put my coffee down at a free small table.  I manoeuvred my bag to stand beside the table, pondering the fact that I’d latterly discovered the wheels were just too big to fit inside the test-box.  I was on a wing and a prayer with respect to being allowed to carry it on, but it was too late to do anything about it so I may as well enjoy the coffee and take my chances.  (As my dear Mother would attest, this was not the first or last time I’d have to get creative or persuasive about my luggage… and if that failed I’d just have to cough up the extra money.) 

Then I began to peel off the layers.  I struggled first with the denim jacket, leaning down to put it around the back of my chair.  As I stood up, I happened to notice a man several metres away was looking at me.  I thought little of it.  Next I had to take off my fleece, which had been tied around my waist and got tangled with my shoulder bag, so it took a little while to break free.  Finally I wrapped that around my chair.  Again the man watched me. 

Next came a light blue cardigan (I know, but how could I know it was going to be hot in France?)… and then a long cashmere scarf which was doubled around my neck and threatening to suffocate me.  When they were all draped around the chair I stretched a little, flicked back my mane of hair, and tucked my t-shirt into my denim mini-skirt.  For a moment I mused on the desirability of sandals over tights and boots, but as there was no way the boots would fit into my luggage I gave up the thought.  Then I glanced up to find the guy still staring.  In fact he was almost smiling now, in a dozy, dream-like fashion, as if he thought he was looking at me through one-way glass.  I caught his eye this time and smiled.  He looked quickly away, no doubt embarrassed, and I sat down at the table and crossed my legs. 

Over the next ten minutes I drank my coffee and made a couple of phone calls.  Between each change of activity I found my admirer looking in my direction.  At one point I looked over my shoulder to see if there was something interesting behind me, but when I looked back – as if to tease him I was aware he was watching me – he had looked down.

It was amusing.  He was good-looking, well-built, and with dark-rimmed, piercing blue eyes.  He also had a neatly trimmed beard which added a dimension of maturity and distinction to an otherwise young countenance.  This fact alone interested me, as I wasn’t ordinarily drawn to men with beards, and he was the second man with a beard in a short space of time whom I’d found attractive. 

When I left a voicemail message for a girlfriend, I couldn’t resist the urge to tell her that a cute guy was a few metres away staring at me.  I giggled and hung up.  Then reaching into my bag for a piece of fruit I laughed aloud because I realized it was a banana I was about to eat.  Sorry, but anyone who has watched Sex & the City knows what Samantha would have done at this point!  I was tempted… it might have been a lot of fun to tease him… but despite feeling cheeky I couldn’t quite drum up the audacity.  (Anyway I was already a little smitten with the other beard guy, so felt no need to be provocative.)

Instead I just caught the handsome guy’s eye and smiled.  This time he smiled back and gently nodded.  I ate my banana demurely (breaking it into pieces), and sorted out a few bits and bobs in my bag.  By the time I began to think about moving toward the Gate, I looked up to find him looking straight at me - this time with more of an open smile and no intention of turning away.  If I wasn’t born a flirt I have certainly been trained (as an actress) to come in on cue.  So I lifted my hand and covered my eyes, moving it away quickly as you do with a baby when you play peek-a-boo.  This made him laugh, and the ice was broken.  

Lacking English reserve, I got up, walked over and introduced myself.  He did the same, and we both laughed.  What could he do?  He’d been caught out.  And it seemed silly not to openly acknowledge each other.  He then invited me to join him and we chatted and shared a humorous time.  Unpacking the little incident he said “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it” as apparently I was the only thing in his immediate eye-line and “the taking off of the layers, one by one, like a striptease” had put him into a kind of trance.  Sweet.  For, as he seemed genuine and said it without a hint of salaciousness, it could only be flattering.  In fact he still seemed rather surprised we were actually speaking.     

The next thing you know we were both running through the airport to our Departure Gates, still talking, and with me trying to explain why the man in the lift had insisted he knew me when he really didn’t - a hard explanation to make when you don’t want to mention the old soap-opera you used to be on, you’re running late for the plane, are dragging luggage, and have on too many layers! 

We both made it just in time: me for Toulouse; Shaun for Nice, where he was headed to the Formula One in Monaco.  We shook hands, quickly kissed each other European style on each cheek, and parted with a big smile and nice holiday energy. 

Ezy Jet were calling Final Boarding and about to close the Gate.  As I was rushing, flustered, and near to last in the queue, they glanced only briefly at my bag and I was through.  Phew.  When I fell into my seat on the plane I got the giggles again.  Rather than let the friendly couple beside me think I was a lunatic, I had to tell them about the flirtatious exchange.  The lady liked the banana bit.  The guy went into a trance.