You recently flew with Tiger Air, tell us what you think

Well the cost was good; so good that we chose to fly with you instead of another leading airline – on which our friends booked, and whose flight we waved off as we waited at Changi Gate 59 (out of 60) for our own flight to Bali to join them for a very short girls’ weekend. This should probably have been our first clue, since nothing that cheap is ever going to come without a snag.

That our plane on the tarmac had a big engineering truck beside it and a man in a yellow jacket fiddling with his undercarriage should have been our second clue. Three tannoy mumbles later (none of which included a full explanation other than ‘technical issues’) and we had decamped to the nearest airport pub and ordered drinks and nibbles. The food worked, there was a live band, it was almost like a Friday night out, and as we clinked our tall drinks the three-hour delay didn’t seem quite so bad.

Well into our 14th gossip topic and a new tannoy message fizzled faintly over the din of the band, suggesting a number rather similar to the one on our tickets, but it was only thanks to my Changi app that we checked and saw you had actually changed the boarding time again, this time cheekily pulling it back by a sizeable two hours, leaving us an Olympic five minutes to get to the gate. (If I was a refund sort of girl I might suggest it here – had I known we were having a mere one-hour delay instead of three hours as initially suggested, I would never have ordered the second vodka, which I ended up leaving untouched as we scrambled to pay and leave.)

Having photo-bombed several groups taking selfies in front of the tropical orchid display as we knocked people out of the way to get to The Furthest Gate In The World, we were slammed into our seats only to then sit in them for a further half-hour while everyone else was herded back from their own untouched vodkas. Once in the air, our Singapore Slings tasted of nail polish remover and the duty-free bottle I wanted was the only one unavailable. That was Outgoing. For Return we had another delay, a man’s knees in my back thanks to the cosy seating plan, and four out of eight meal options out of stock.

The crew, I must say, were all lovely – upbeat and diligent with an average age of around 12 years old. I’m glad we didn’t have to adopt the brace position, as I would have felt very maternal towards at least half of them. The Band-Aid one of them got my companion after she cut her thumb opening the Sling bottle arrived promptly, and the little boy reciting the remaining meal options knew them all off by heart, including which pictures to point to: ten out of ten. I didn’t even mind that the kitchen curtain got caught in the toilet door every time I went (which wasn’t often, happily, as I hadn’t eaten or drunk much).

I’m not a money-back sort of person but we got to the villa so late on Friday that everyone had gone to bed and there was no wine left, and home again on Sunday so late that Monday had already arrived. I loved the friendly crew but I would rather have got to where I needed to get in time, well-fed and with the correct bottle of liquor in my tote bag.

Hope the feedback is helpful. Lots of love to all the girls and boys.

PS I think I left my kindle in your seatback. This would not have happened if I’d paid a bit more and booked onto the same flight as our other friend who had a bigger plane with free food and films, giving her no cause to pack her kindle and subsequently lose it.

Dog days

We are in drought; everywhere is brown. Leaves are falling and lawns are dead. The on/off Haze is fanned by Saharan winds, hairdryer-hot. Cat bowls dot the pavements untouched. Dogs don’t even go out, let alone lie in the shade. Normally we curse the storms and welcome the dry heat, but these days there is something sinister about the bright white light filtering through the stick-dry trees. From the safety of indoors it can all look rather tempting but venture out for any length of time and the atmosphere is oven-hot, intense. This is not normal.

Images of autumn leaves have always been a memento mori, a whimsy reminder of the fragile cycle of life. Golden forests for mourning cards, fall backdrops for minor-key film credits, dead bracken for sad book covers. This week the piles of fallen leaves are particularly symbolic, because something autumnal has happened in this safe haven of ours, a sudden spanner in the works of our jolly wheel of fortune, cutting into a happy family unit and blotting out their sun, making everything grey.

Winter, suddenly, has frozen the timeline of a man who should have been pottering through his own colourful summer. Panning out in the global wake of the much broader crisis of the missing jumbo jet, this family’s stark and surreal event has been closer to home, a cold crisis on an intricate scale: domestic, undiluted.

Observing from the sidelines under incongruous sun-shiny skies, we are heavy hearted as the news trickles through the interlinked social networks. Like the dry spell, there is nothing we can do, no solace to be found. A very bad thing has happened to a friend, someone very good, a man who coloured the world and who should not (cannot) have gone. Normality has been tipped up, undone, all reason evaporated. Like the drought and the jet, this was not supposed to happen. It is wrong, unscheduled, not in the manual.

Rain is finally expected this weekend. If and when that happens, we look forward to our lawns and leaves shining once more. For one family, though, life will never be quite as shiny again.

Lycra rage

Nothing gets my goat more than people making assumptions (I do it all the time of course, but I’m not writing about me). Like sportswear designers, for example.

It costs money, you know, to sign up to these organized sporting events but as the runs, walks and swims are all for chariddy I don’t usually mind. Besides, you get a goody bag and a T-shirt, sometimes even some fruit. No doubt a lot of our donated cash goes on the sportswear you get in these goody bags. The outfit for this weekend’s event was an unusual T and shorts combination, the bottom half being a nice little addition – sadly, ‘little’ being the key word.

It’s bad enough that I carry about an extra fifth of the weight that I used to be, that I’m not the shape I was when I was 18 and never will be, that my age and stupid hormones mean I pile on the pounds fast then just can’t get rid of them again (and yes, that I have a cake habit that suits none of the above). But then why not go and boot me when I’m down by designing fitness clothes that only a child’s teddy bear might wear? It wasn’t like I’d tried to stuff myself into a Medium or even a Large. I’d given up, this time, on pretending that the clothes sizes would apply to anyone normal and ordered a Supersize.

I tried on the shorts and T combo in front of Mr PC, who had that mute, wide-eyed expression that men get when they are about to be asked a ‘how-do-I-look?’ question and the resulting answer must be very, very carefully given. He had no chance – I couldn’t even get the shorts over my calves, let alone knees or any further up, and as I hobbled sideways in a tangle of tiny Lycra we ended up giggling about how ridiculously miniscule the outfit was. ‘Are you sure they’re XL?’ he managed. The designer, clearly, was blind, or just very stupid.

Joking aside I’m really livid about this. You come to expect overly small sizes when you live in Southeast Asia because in this part of the world there is a mythological design belief that women’s clothes should be made for a short Kate Moss, or thinner. Quite why I have no idea because it is NOT true that all Asian women are tiny; I’ve seen large ones as well as small ones – here in Singapore there is just as wide a range of people as there is in any other country in the world: there are tiny western women here just as there are tiny Singaporean women. Big ones and small ones, we are built in all shapes and sizes no matter where we live and no matter where we come from.

It’s not enough that us westerners in Singapore get the blunt end of the stout stick in shops, but then to bring it into the realms of fitness – well, just who do you suppose is running these races? We’re not all going to be stick insects, are we? Some of us are running to LOSE THE WEIGHT so please, do us women a favour and create some designs that might fit real people.

PMM

I just can’t do round-robins, those circular letters you get at Christmas. I mean, if you send me round-robins please do not stop, really and honestly don’t, as I do so love getting all the information. It’s just when you get a really, really smug one, you know: Neville is getting along well with his new oboe. Leila’s cabbage won first place in the county show. All that. My mother always threatened to send one out telling everyone how I had packed in the 40-a-day habit and got it down to 20, how my sister was getting off early for good behaviour (“only six months of the sentence left now, we are all so proud”) and how she and my dad had successfully campaigned to have the Cornish pasty put on the menu in our schools (“the high point of our year was when we found the last of the pet mice, so relieved – stuffed behind the radiator and somewhat warm but PHEW – such joy!). Something like that.

Nevertheless there are times when you can’t help but feel a little smug. I do try not to overshare but sometimes I can’t help it. When SM was smaller I trumpeted the messages on FB in the form of PMMs – in today’s saccharin-lashed social networking modern parlance, that means “Proud Mummy Moments”. So here’s my latest. Sorry in advance.

It’s Saturday and we’re in a posh piano shop in a mall downtown, me and SM, where several models of Yamaha are grouped into a central area and stand around patiently while sticky fingers bash out off-key octaves. SM – annoyed at being dragged into what he had thought was going to be yet another chore-shop – has turned out to be thrilled that he can flutter between the keyboards like a bee in a honeyfield, while I wait the endless wait at the customer counter for someone to find me a metronome (sorry again, sorry, it IS a tiny bit smug-class, this one, sorry).

It’s a right old racket in there (Brahm’s Third Racket, said John Cleese in a classic episode of Fawlty Towers), and I don’t know how the assistants assist, it’s like a scene from one of those 1970s Mad comics. But every now and then a lilt of tune puffs up from the scrum, a trill of tiny slivers above the din, noticeable passages from the songs we are currently subjected to listening to on Monday and Friday nights when the piano teacher pays a visit. The little vignettes surface and pop before SM buzzes to the next piano and takes another tinkle. By now he’s drawn a few onlookers; I’d say ‘a small crowd’ if I was having an LPMM (Lying Proud Mummy Moment) but this is literally a modest handful, shoppers pausing for a second to listen. Finally, a headache-riven assistant is free to deal with me and in the time it takes to ask my question SM has returned to my side, face turned in to my skirt, puce and talking out of the side of his mouth: ‘why was everyone watching me?’

We won’t win any musical awards in this house, certainly not enough to send you all a round-robin detailing the examiner’s comments, in fact, as I type I can hear him getting a simple scale wrong again, and again, and again. But hey, you take your PMMS when you can. First public concert, SM, nice one.