... and for your in-flight entertainment - Something to Read on the Plane - A bit of Light Literature, Short Stories & Other Fun Stuff.
"Should be compulsory reading to keep incorrigible chatterers quiet" - Frequent Flyer.
"Could also be used to ram down their throats" - Flight Attendant.
"The stories about me are hugely exaggerated" - Author's Spouse.
"Shredded drafts of this book line my litter tray. Royalties from this book will go towards proper deodorized litter and reduce complaints about the smell" - Family Cat
"What a relief that will be" - Family Dog.
For your reading comfort we have used a decent-sized font and made the book pocket-sized, and for those who only read books with pictures we have included a few illustrative drawings.
Size 170 mm x 105 mm
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"If you've ever found yourself stranded on an aeroplane with nothing to read, then this book has provided the answer. It is a collection of previously published pieces and promises to keep the reader entertained. It is a compilation of humorous articles, short stories, plus a quiz, agony aunt column and a collection of malapropisms in book form to keep passengers amused. One of the short stories "Family Ties" was included in an anthology published by Cheshire Academic Press, University of Chester, UK." Berea News, Durban, 7 May 2007
"A delightfully light-hearted variety of stories, articles, limericks, and even a quiz to see how good a passenger you are. This is a great, pocket-sized book to keep with you whilst travelling, and a perfect gift for someone who is going on a trip." Write Now, SA Writers' Circle Magazine, December 2007
"Covering a diverse range of subjects, and written in a feel-good style, it's little and can slip into a travel bag and be dipped into in flight." Daily News, Durban 17/5/07
"The stories are all short enough to finish in a matter of minutes, are light-hearted and don't require a lot of concentration. Perfect for reading on planes, trains, buses, in a car or for filling those rare idle periods, like when waiting outside schools to pick up kids. It's small enough to fit in an average sized handbag, so you can take it anywhere with you." Outer West Local News, Durban, November 2007.
"It would make a perfect travelling and holiday companion. The quirky short stories - some a little naughty - might well prove the book's strong point. But I took a fancy to the word play, especially the collection of malaprospisms - the accidental misuse of words - which I'm sure you'll figure out without the explanations that the book gives." The Idler, The Mercury, Durban October 26 2007.
"A collection of delightful short stories to take the tedium out of flying and provide reading pleasure anywhere else. The subject matter in this pocket-sized volume ranges from hypochondria to murder." Royston Barnard, The Independent on Saturday, Durban, 12 May 07
A Quick Word – foreword...7
World Wide Worry…8
A Night on the Run...121
A Matter of Convenience – short story…16
Something in the Air…25
The Great Ant War…29
Poste Haste – short story…33
A Fine Kettle of Fish…45
Light’s Out – short story…57
Dear Agony Aunt…66
Down the Hatch…71
Sex Education Ain’t What it Used to be…76
The Tryst – short story…82
A Violet Headache…97
Night Noises – short story…100
Fifty Reasons for Feeling Fifty…108
The Letter – short story…113
How Friendly a Passenger are you? Quiz...127
One Little Pig Stayed at Home – short story…138
A Public Inconvenience…147
Family Ties – short story…156
The accidental misuse of words have become known as ‘malapropisms’ after Mrs Malaprop, a character in Sheridan’s play, The Rivals, and can be collected daily by astute observers.
If you are puzzled by the original writer's intended message, a key to their (probable) meanings appears in the book.
A NIGHT ON THE RUN
There is never a good time to get the trots. And a long weekend in a full caravan park is definitely not one of them.
I’m no gastronaut. I like my food plain, and avoid anything on the menu that has to be explained. So I put it down to the take-away salad. The olives to be precise. My wife, who had generously given me her share, had not become similarly afflicted.
It was 21h30 when I became uncomfortably aware that my digestive system was not all it should be. I crawled miserably into the sleeping bag.
By 22h30 cramping pains warned that serious internal mischief was afoot. Like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon I slithered out of the sleeping bag and clambered over my gently snoring partner. Torch in hand I unlocked the door and stepped into the inky blackness. A sullen yellow light glowed dimly from the ablution block. I tiptoed along the gravel path, fearful of waking slumbering neighbours.
Feeling a slight sense of relief I re-emerged into the darkness, only to suffer a near relapse when a spectre-like figure loomed out of the shadows and manifested itself before me. A low growl announced the welcome presence of the security man and his trusty canine partner. We nodded companionably and he was swallowed up in the night....
South Africa 1988
The two buddies were living and working together out in the sticks, and they were beginning to set each other’s teeth on edge. Then one of them made a very weird suggestion…
Royce shifted in his chair, uncomfortably aware that Jamie was watching him read the letter.
The shimmering heat of the desert had dissipated and he gave a shiver, as much from the effect of Jamie’s gaze as from the cool night breeze which had suddenly sprung up. He rolled down his shirtsleeves and moved his canvas chair closer to the fire.
Jamie’s dark eyes continued to scrutinise him, a faint expression of mockery on his face. “Want some coffee?” He offered the pot to Royce.
“Too busy reading?”
Royce sensed the sarcastic resentment. It was worse after each mail drop when once again there were no letters for Jamie.
Jamie slammed the coffee pot on the fire and sank into a moody silence.
It had been six months. Six months with only each other for company. Nothing but the vast, scrubby and endless desert, under the broiling energy-sapping sun. A series of disappointing finds had also exhausted their enthusiasm. The minerals had not been in sufficient quantities to make extraction viable.
Jamie prodded the fire and then swore as the coffee pot tipped and its contents sank into the thirsty earth.
“Damn coffee. I need a stiff drink.”
“Sorry old chap, we seem to be out. Perhaps I could offer you a cup of lukewarm brackish water.” Royce tried to lighten the mood.
“I don’t know what you’re being so smug about,” Jamie sneered.
After nearly two years together Royce had experienced most of Jamie’s moods, including the sudden rages that threatened to break up their working arrangement as well as their fragile friendship. But this vindictive mood was new...
A MATTER OF CONVENIENCE
Family holidays were not the happy events they had once been, especially now that Walter’s bladder had become a liability.
“Let’s go this way. It’s a short cut.” Mavis angrily mimicked Frank’s words under her breath. Short cut to what? The next ruddy life by the looks of it. There was no chance of making a dash for it. Not that her Mam was up to dashing anywhere with her feet. And the only time her Dad moved faster than a slippered shuffle was when he’d overdone the senna pods.
She wrung her hands in anguish. Trust Frank to stall the car in the middle of the ruddy lion enclosure. The midday sun was blazing down and the car was already like a sweatbox.
“Try it again, Frank,” she fumed.
“It’s no good. The battery’s flat.”
“That’s your fault? You’ve known about it for weeks. This isn’t a car park. You can’t just hop out and push. Not with them lions.”
Frank was about to remind her that the only reason he’d looked for a short cut was to get her Dad to the lav, but he was interrupted by a plaintive voice from the back.
“Hey, our Mavis. Why’ve we stopped?” Walter had been regretting that second cup of tea even before they’d entered the safari park.
“Car’s stalled,” muttered a scowling Gerry, wedged sullenly between his grandparents in the back seat.
“That wasn’t very clever, Frank,” Gert told him, prodding his shoulder with a bony, arthritic finger.
Frank winced. He cast around for signs of a game ranger, or other visitors foolhardy enough to venture out in the stifling heat. But they were alone. Except for the lions, eyeing them expectantly from the shade of a tree.
Mavis glanced furiously at her husband. He’d done this on purpose. She knew it. He was just waiting for her Mam to say “I’m never going nowhere in this car again.” That’d be all the excuse he needed. And our Gerry too. They both hated these family holidays. Sometimes she thought they hated her Mam and Dad as well...
DEAR AGONY AUNT
There was a time when nearly all women’s magazines had an Agony Aunt, and it was one of the most eagerly read columns. But they were able to answer only a few of the thousands of letters received. Some people were beyond help.
I am a 45 year-old woman who wants to breed her Pekinese. A man answered my ad in the newspaper and we arranged for him to bring his male dog to cover my female. The man told me he needed encouragement and we should show him what to do. The man made love to me on my bed, but his dog would not even look at my bitch.
The man said that perhaps his dog could not see properly from the floor and suggests that we try again, but next time we have the dogs on the bed with us so that his dog is sure to see exactly what is required.
Do you think the dog’s claws will damage my satin quilt?
HOW FRIENDLY A PASSENGER
Are you considerate of your fellow passengers? Do you make the flight a more pleasant experience, or are you the passenger from hell. Try this quiz to see how you score.
1. When queuing at the check-in desk do you:
a. Wait patiently in line?
b. Know that the rope used to designate where you should stand is made flexible to enable you to duck underneath to claim a better position in the queue?
c. Demand that you are allocated a window seat irrespective of the fact that you have a weak bladder?
2. Before departure do you:
a. Find out where you will be boarding and make sure you are at the gate well before the allotted boarding time hoping for a last-minute upgrade?
b. Saunter in a minute after final boarding time and demand an aisle seat because you have a minor medical condition?
c. Wait until your name is called knowing that you’re far too important to be left behind.
3. As your hand luggage do you carry:
a. Large unwieldy curios, like African drums, and expect them to be accommodated in the overhead lockers?
b. Fragile ornaments that have to be fussed over and stowed in a special area?
c. Numerous bags and packages of duty-free booze and fags that have to be stowed at your feet taking up the space of your neighbour?
d. One piece of recommended-size luggage?