The 1996 movie Snakes On A Plane does what it says on the box – FBI agent Samuel L. Jackson, delivering a witness for trial, must fend off a hefty batch of venomous serpents released on a passenger jet by an imaginative assassin.
The film came to mind when I found myself on a flight of similar unpleasantness from Edinburgh to Majorca – and if anybody wants to turn the ordeal into a movie, I’ll give them a working title – Scottish Stag Scum On A Plane.
The writing was on the wall at the desk for the early morning budget airline departure.
There they were in the queue – a couple of dozen males in matching T-shirts, with two or three at the front of this fine body of men dividing their times between shouting loudly and proudly about their inebriated state. Of course, everybody else within sight and sound of this spectacle was praying like crazy that they wouldn’t end up seated within 50ft of them. My wife and I, pre-booked for the rear of the aircraft, drew the short straw. We found the revellers embedded right behind us.
Adding fuel to the fire in a kind of horrific you-couldnae-make-it-up sort of way, a hen party then arrived to roost immediately in front of us, with the slogans on their T-shirts whipping the stag party into volleys of new obscenities which would have made a brothel madam blush, all delivered at high volume, with no regard for the women and children seated nearby.
There were immediate complaints, at which point the all-male cabin crew advanced in a tight unit to the rear and their leader gave a short speech to the lovely lads to try to calm them down. Which they did. Until we were airborne. Then, knowing that there was little chance of turning back, the main vocalists started up at the same vile, lewd pitch.
More complaints were made and one woman even became so upset that she had to be re-seated further down the plane.
At this point, I stood up, turned round and, addressing the cheerleaders, asked if they were proud of their achievement – causing an elderly lady to become so upset she had to move?
The slurred response was: “We were just being funny. Everybody else found it funny.”
I looked at ‘the everybody else’ – all I saw were grim, unsmiling faces as far as the eye could see. However, what I found truly amazing was that as I looked over this uniformly T-shirted flower of Scotland’s manhood, I noticed that amongst them were guys who were my age and more. Fathers, grandfathers, senior work colleagues? The clone garb made it hard to tell.
What I do know is, that as I spoke out, to a man, the older ‘stags’, noble creatures that they were, just sat there, staring blankly ahead, with lips sealed. As the more mature ones in the party, they could have had a wise, soothing word with the outlaws in their gang. But no. They were like has-been mannequins abandoned in a storeroom. To their shame.
My only regret? That Mrs W. and I hadn’t invited Samuel L. along for the holiday and the flight ...