In a previous life, I was a very handsome, sophisticated and knowing man of the world. I worked for an airline and was the captain of a regional airliner operating all across the European area. I was the boss of my aircraft and the boss of my crew. I knew what life was all about.

drunk-manI, and my crew, often used to stay overnight in Brussels. In those days the rules from the customs people were a little different than they are today. All of the booze provided for passengers on the flight had to be accounted for. Anything surplus to requirement was to be disposed of in the nearest suitable drain. Of course, whenever we were night stopping, we had other ideas.

As we clinked across the tarmac towards our hotel bus with our baggage, we all looked forward to an evening of convivial dining, culture and sophisticated conversation.

After taking our dinner in the very fine hotel restaurant, paid for from our nightly allowance, we retired to our rooms. We would agree which chamber to meet up in where we would discuss the finer things of life, the world in general and to drink all the surplus contents of the aircraft bar.

I recall such an evening. We were all having an adult chat discussing what ought to be done by the world regulators. We came to many profound conclusions about life whilst we gradually became, frankly, just a little pissed. Nobody was paying for any of the alcohol, except perhaps, the Customs and Inland Revenue.

beanDuring our serious debate, I questioned the morality of my number one Hostie concerning her liaisons with my less than number one First Officer. She became a little annoyed with me and promptly left to return to her bed. I felt that all I had done was to exert my Captainly duty to maintain the good name of the company.

I went to bed myself shortly afterwards, it was fairly late. After a period I woke up because I needed to go for a pee. I could not remember the difference between the loo door and the room door. I chose the wrong one.

It was after midnight and I was standing in the corridor outside and it was deserted. I can remember to this day the ‘Click’ as the door slammed shut behind me. I reflected on the recollection that I had left the door lock card by my bed. I was stark bollock naked, locked out and gasping for the loo. I had a plan though.

carpet-tileI went to the nearby fire escape, found a suitable location and relieved my bladder. That was the first thing dealt with. Next, I found a large carpet tile by the entrance that I decided to use to protect my dignity. And then I remembered that the lift, close by, had a phone in it. I used it and spoke manfully to a hotel porter. I told him that I was locked out of my room and needed his assistance. He came to help me. I stood outside my door wearing nothing but a carpet tile. The porter eyed me suspiciously and unlocked my room. I felt quite proud actually, I think he thought that the stewardess in the next room had just kicked me out.

The next afternoon, very much later, as I and my crew returned to fly back to London, the atmosphere was rather black. No one was speaking to me. I related my experience of the previous evening to break the ice. The crew almost ruptured themselves laughing

I have always thought that I dealt with my predicament in a very Captainly manner. I found the carpet tile, used the phone in the lift and dealt with the rescuing porter in sound, patronising fashion. I have related the tale to others since then. No one has ever been terribly amused. I don’t know why.

About Bob Lyons

Former airline pilot and now enjoying a new career as a writer. I have worked and travelled extensively in Europe and especially France. I love the continent, the people and my new life writing about them.