THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIS
File 02: “Edmonds At 20,000 Feet”
Last week I was in London; I don’t actually live there, I live in Australia which meant I recently had to endure the delights of a twenty-one hour flight half-way around the globe in order to get home. This presented me with a couple of problems: I am six foot, six inches tall meaning that I struggle to squeeze myself into the cramped seats, which is more than a nuisance; added to this, I never seem to be able to find anything interesting to watch during the flight.
This time, however, I resolved to spend my time more wisely, and I began my journey grateful for the opportunity to sit for the best part of a day and do nothing but watch film after film after film. My optimism did not last.
I decided not to immediately dive headlong into the world of poor quality audio and miniature seat-back screens, but to read a magazine; this was my first mistake. By the time I had finished reading the dinner service was being served and I found myself unable to unfold my tiny television screen never mind watch it. My second mistake was to choose slow-roasted lamb (in a port jus) for my evening meal; it tasted like a physical manifestation of woe (in a port jus).
Regardless, after heroically forcing down my meal I settled in to enjoy a film or two when along came mistake number three. I fell asleep. When I awoke we were already beginning our descent into Shanghai airport for a five-hour stopover. Never fear, thought I, for Shanghai airport kindly provides a free cinema for the travelling cinephile. Imagine my dismay when I waltzed into the sparsely populated cinema only to find that they were halfway through a screening of Robin Hood. Not the Kevin Costner version, not the Errol Flynn version, not even the cartoon one with a lost-looking Baloo the bear. No, it was Ridley Scott’s recent interpretation, which I can only, charitably, describe as an “accent buffet”. Still, sitting through this film for the second time gave me an opportunity to play a game entitled “guess the setting” All one must do is guess, by character accent alone, where a particular film is supposed to be set. As William Hurt strolled into view and begins to speak my first guess was Washington DC, punctuated by brief visits to ye-olde England. But then Russell Crowe arrived and we journeyed across the Irish Sea to the emerald isle, via Rotherham obviously, before we found ourselves in Sweden courtesy of Max Von Sydow. Considering I was at an airport, and still had another flight to catch, I did not find this geographical confusion particularly helpful or amusing. Thankfully I found my bearings the moment Mark Strong hove into view; my feet were firmly grounded in London’s West End; Shaftesbury Avenue to be precise, with pantomime season in full-swing.
After this grand tour, in which I tried to imagine an enormous, bloody, battle-royal featuring the cast of every single Robin Hood movie ever made, (the Men in Tights boys didn’t fare well) I boarded my second flight determined to watch something worthwhile. Sadly the airline was not willing to meet me halfway here, and so I found myself flicking through the various channels trying to settle on absolutely anything that didn’t involve giant anthropomorphic cars, or Nicole Kidman. If I were in charge of in-flight entertainment, and sadly I am not, the schedule would be peppered with numerous, amusing aeroplane related gems. Airplane (obviously), Airplane 2 (just for the Shatner scenes), Battle of Britain, The Aviator, Con Air, Flight of the Phoenix and so on in this fashion; instead I was forced to focus my efforts into simply avoiding contact with Owen Wilson. A casual glance around the cabin showed that at least half a dozen people in the immediate vicinity were gleefully watching Mr Wilson amusingly stumble his way through one sexual mishap to the next. With a vicious, hate-filled sneer I spied on the rest of my fellow flyers, as best I could, to try to gain some inspiration with my own movie choice, and to judge them by their own. Matthew McConaughey appeared with alarming regularity, as did Vince Vaughan, but this was nothing in comparison to the alarming noise blaring out of the earphones of a nearby woman. Unless I was very much mistaken (I wasn’t), I could make out the unmistakeable sounds of Noel Edmonds. Amazingly someone had decided to make use of their flight-time by catching up on a few old episodes of Deal or no Deal! Never mind the cramped seating, the frightening food, the baffling, disorientating accents; this single appearance by Noel Edmonds presenting a televised guessing-game troubled me more than I care to mention. It was at this point I gave up entirely the notion of enjoying any in-flight movies at all. Good job I’d brought a book.