Light-hearted encounter banishes post-holiday gloom

Only hours after coming back from holiday last week I had that feeling that I had never been away, not that it was a big deal, especially as it was the manner of the greeting from an old friend who brought me right down to earth with a resounding, but amusing bump.

Welcoming me back to Ellon, she politely asked for my health, as is the way of us older people, going on to remind me that the last time she had seen me was the day of my spectacular fall down the steps of a town centre bank earlier in the year. In fact it was March 31, more precisely it was 2.50pm on the same afternoon.

She progressed her welcome home comments with the rejoinder that the occasion was one that had given her the best laugh of the year. I recall the same day with slightly different emotions, but we agreed on parting that no one had died, though at the time it did feel like the end if not nigh, had been too near for comfort.

We were also agreed that at the end of the day, if you didn’t manage a laugh just now and again, you were well and truly on the way to being totally out of it.

I left my cheery lady feeling just that bit lighter than when I had first encountered her 10 minutes earlier, and certainly more able to face the remainder of the month with all the necessary cheer required in December.

But while my day was made by my Geordie friend, I was less than happy some 24 hours earlier when on a flight from Amsterdam to Aberdeen my attempts to catch up on sleep after a longer flight from Atlanta were rudely interrupted by a small group of Scottish workers who while not overly noisy, insisting on using appalling language.

Their most unwelcome use of inappropriate swearing was a shock to the system, and although no one on the packed plane remonstrated, the stunned silence from other passengers was a clear indication of general unhappiness.

I was as cowardly as anyone, nursing my wrath and tiredness in equal measure until released on the cold, sobering tarmac of Aberdeen Airport where my wife and I agreed that once again Scotland had been let down, albeit for a very short part of the hour and 20 minutes the flight had taken.

In all my years of travelling I have become almost immune to the bad behaviour on buses and trains, but this was my first experience of being shocked by the swearing of my fellow passengers on a commercial flight. I can only hope it was a one-off and that the charming cabin crew of the KLM flight do not have to put up with it again.

What rankles most is fact that they just had to be Scottish, but even worse was my own failure to take a stance against my errant, even ignorant fellow countrymen.

Perhaps I have learned from a previous experience in a London restaurant when I rounded on a fellow Scot, condemning him for his outrageous behaviour, taking him on with a passionate “You make me ashamed to be Scottish” before sitting down to a rapturous cheer from other diners.