I enjoy, on this site, a very small readership made up entirely of people I don’t actually know. That is the way I like it. Nevertheless I still live with the constant fear of offending someone. I am easy to misjudge, perhaps, and after jotting down a few obscure thoughts this morning it occurred to me that some of it might be perceived as nudging the boundaries of good taste. There are a couple of bits that might even come across as sexist. And one that may have about it, a hint of racism.
Be assured that I mean no offence.
Upon Contemplating Cannibalism
It is 2018.
So, we are speaking here, my friends, of an issue that comes up in polite conversation only rarely. It is the rare events in life, however, that get you.
As usual, it is best to be prepared (on that note we will be discussing, in the coming months, ‘Upon contracting the Bubonic Plague’, ‘Upon being Sentenced to Crucifixion, and ‘Upon Encountering Alien Spacecraft’. Stay tuned).
Thoughts of cannibalism come to us, in this day and age, only occasionally , as I say. But who has not given it at least casual consideration upon boarding some rusting airliner prior to a trip over remote, mountainous terrain? Where, in the long days awaiting rescue after the crash landing, it is notoriously difficult to get a decent bite to eat? All of you? Yes, I thought so.
It is in these situations that the powerful human instinct for survival takes over. But that is no excuse for bad manners. There are matters of etiquette of which you should be aware, and should observe, lest your fellow survivors turn upon you after sunset.
It is not the done thing, for example, to start leering at the rubenesque figure seated beside you before takeoff. Even worse to do so during the meal service with knife and fork in hand. By all means, however, offer her your dessert.
“Madam, I have had elegant sufficiently, but you look absolutely delicious, whoops, I mean ravenous. Could I interest you at all in an additional serving of ice cream?”
Then, if she accepts your gentlemanly offer and offers you, in return, a smile it is quite OK to smile back and say,
“We never know where the next meal may be coming from, do we?”
Try not to be too pedantic , at this early stage, with your post-accident culinary requirements. It is easy to become obsessed with the tasty treat sitting beside you and lose sight altogether of everything else potentially on offer. If you are travelling on a low-cost carrier (and, let’s face it, you probably are, these are the ones that crash all the time) the cabin will be absolutely bursting with boorish, poorly dressed, overweight loud-mouths. You may take some comfort in the thought that such people, though abhorrent in life, may prove to be absolutely scrumptious in death. Take note as well, as you are looking around with an eye to the future, of the people looking back at you with similar interest. These are the ones to be avoided at the crash site should you be suffering from any potentially life-threatening injuries.
If possible, it is wise to give other passengers the impression that you may, yourself, be inedible. It is perfectly permissible then, to shout loudly to a flight attendant,
“Excuse me Miss, I seem to have misplaced my leprosy medication. Has anybody handed it in?”
The nature of horrific mid-air incidents is that they tend to occur quite unexpectedly. The craft in which you are travelling is hurtling through space at about five hundred miles an hour. So is the one going the other way. It is highly unlikely that the pilots will give you much of a heads-up prior to the collision so any preparation you can have put in place beforehand will be time well spent. Before the flight attendants start rudely snatching the meal trays from in front of you try to find somewhere safe to secrete your knife and fork. These will provide for you a huge advantage later on. If you enjoy a bit of formality around dinner time (and who doesn’t?) it is wise to hang on to your serviette as well. Likewise, if there are any of those little bottles of burgundy lying about wrap them carefully in a blanket and place them under the seat in front of you.
Statistically, of course, your chances of survival are almost zero. But it pays to do anything you can to increase those chances. Those wearing a seatbelt enjoy far better odds than those not. So keep yours fastened. Tightly. And spend the entire flight in the brace position (details of this can be found on the safety card in the seat pocket in front of you). This sensible precaution may create varying degrees of concern amongst other passengers and particularly with the one sitting beside you. But ignore her obvious inexperience with the situation . And try to ignore the humiliating laughter it precipitates in the rows of drunken football fans behind you. This is not a popularity contest. Yet.
The crash itself is never a pleasant experience, but as you are plummeting earthward and people are screaming all about you try to remain calm. It is not, at this time, considered impolite to put a comforting arm gently around the delicious piece beside you. You might even lean towards her and kiss her tenderly on the forehead. At the same time your other arm might find its way across her juicy leg and onto her lap. Where it may surreptitiously unbuckle her own seatbelt without alerting her to the fact. Remember that this is a survival of the fittest situation. Any advantage available should be leapt upon. Having done so return to the brace position and hope for the best.
Unless you are the only survivor you are bound to be surrounded by a lot of negativity in the first few hours after the crash. In the short term this is likely to stifle, to a degree, appetite. Nevertheless it pays to get the basic preparations underway before it gets dark.
It will be cold. Light a fire. There is no need, at this point, to mention cooking. Encourage fellow survivors to huddle around closely sharing the warmth. This simple gesture will greatly enhance the feelings of camaraderie so vital to getting over those initial social hurdles that invariably arise when you, as a matter of necessity and leadership, bring up the delicate issue of cannibalism. By now the fire should have burnt down to a solid layer of hot coals.
Try not to be greedy. Share the best bits around. If somebody else is making moves towards the very thing that you have been salivating over all flight then you should apply to the situation the sensitivity that it demands.
“I say, good Sir, I think you’ll find that there’s plenty to go around, but would you mind terribly allowing me the honour of carving?”
Under no circumstances announce any personal preferences for light or dark meat.
If there is a priest about a short prayer before the main course is appropriate.
And this is the time that you should publicly announce your sincere regret at having to do what you are so enthusiastically about to do.
It will stand you in better stead at the subsequent enquiry.
Until next time.