Flying stand-by to Sydney, with my first standby leg being QF32 to Singapore. Sit at Heathrow, finishing off "Dancer" Colm McCann's fictionalized biography of Rudolf Nureyev.
I'm called up 1/2 an hour before boarding and get a relatively decent aisle seat. I notice the ticket holder pack has some flying suggestions, like "treat yourself to moisturizer" - not updated for the days of fluid-less flying. I wonder what reaction I'd get if I set up a rack of test-tubes on my meal-tray and pretended to mix up some high-altitude explosives using sachets of toothpaste, moisturizer and shampoo.
The 12-odd hours of flying are relieved by 35 sudoku puzzles, several movies and some TV documentaries. No chance of sleeping while the girls sitting between me and the window are up and down like incontinent jack-in-the-boxes, and meal-carts rattle past threatening to shatter any part of my leg that slides into the aisle. The in-flight video taunts me with in-seat exercises to prevent deep vein thrombosis, all theoretically possible if I had room to lift my knees which are either wedged into the forward seat, or splayed to the side and regularly grazed by passing aisle-traffic.