« My Thoughts On Clothes | Main | A Big Man »

About A Week: Bawling Babe

Peter Hinchliffe and his family are haunted by a crying baby when they go flying round the world.

A crying baby is following us on our travels. There it was when we went to Toronto, three rows behind us on the plane, yowling and bawling in a most enthusiastic fashion.

There it was again, right behind us this time, doing its best to imitate Concorde at full throttle for most of the eight-hour flight from Manchester to Atlanta, Georgia.

The same infant is also plaguing our son Dave, who regularly used to air-hop between Australia and Thailand.

Dave is convinced that we Hinchliffes are caught up in our very own Stephen King story. No matter when or where we fly the crying babe will be there to torment us.

My son is half-convinced that it’s the same infant every time. When one of us books an airline ticket a sinister computer clicks into gear, alerting the crying babe family.

“Two Hinchliffes travelling to Georgia on the 21st of this month. We’ve booked you seats on the Delta flight. Usual routine. Please don’t feed your infant in the 12 hours prior to check-in.’’

Mum and babe must have earned a double bonus for their efforts during that Atlanta flight. Never in the history of human irritation has so much noise come non-stop from so small a frame for so many hours.

Come to think of it though maybe this time we should have been grateful to our small tormentor. Her shrieks and wails steered our minds away from deeper worries. Since the horrors of September 11, and other events since then, air travel can jangle the nerves of the coolest customer,

You suspiciously eye other passengers in the check-in queue. While in flight you glance to right and left as you go down the aisle to the toilet, trying to read faces.

The security at Manchester airport is reassuringly thorough. Not merely the routine “Did you pack this case yourself sir, and has it been out of your sight this morning?’’

There are other searching questions. A page-by-page inspection of passports. Then there are electronic scans of all luggage and every passenger.

Airports are now patrolled by armed police. Questions are asked.

But back to this plague of crying babes. I have had a sudden thought. Perhaps the airlines are wreaking revenge on me and my family.

Perhaps those airlines keep and exchange records. They recall the day when we Hinchliffes flew from London to Nairobi, Kenya, when son Dave was a one-year-old.

Shortly after take-off, he started to cry. He cried during our stop-over in Athens. Then he cried and cried through every one of those long air miles over Africa.

Maybe the airline marked us down as causing distress and sleeplessness to scores of passengers.. Circulated our names to other airlines, marked with that red tick which commands: SET THE CRYING BABE UPON THEM.

After one of those cry-filled flights to the United States we found ourselves touring in North Texas. Exhausted after a long drive we booked into a motel in Amarillo.

“We could eat here in the motel,’’ said my wife Joyce.

Then we saw the name of the motel restaurant.


We ate out.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.