Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Around the world in 80 (or so) days - May 15, 2022
- Cannes on steroids and gobsmacked in an airport wonderland - May 11, 2022
- A sneak preview of a new wonder of the world - May 10, 2022
Courtesy of our national carrier British Airways, my Yeti-like carbon footprint has probably earned me enough air miles to fly from Heathrow to Neptune four or five times a year, first class of course.
As a result let’s just say that I’m well versed in terms of the BA product. I could probably recite their entire inflight catalogue (produced by Tourvest and consistently excellent by the way); I know exactly which movies are showing and, heck, I’m even on first-name terms with many of their crew. While the service can have its vagaries I’m generally a happy consumer at the end of most flights.
But my experience onboard BA 38 from Beijing to Heathrow yesterday exceeded any other I have had in nearly three decades of flying with the airline. What an exceptional crew and none more so than one Alan Hughes (below), Cabin Services Director.
After a tough week in China, including a couple of long domestic flights, I simply wanted to relax all the way back to London. No laptop, just a glass or two of wine, a movie (the desperately disappointing Gone Girl) and some badly needed sleep. Alan, a delightfully effusive and flamboyant chap, and two of his colleagues Denise and Laurent certainly ensured the wine (a marvellously crisp and alluring Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion from West Australia) kept coming and all was peaceful for once in the mad, mad world of The Moodie Report.
Picking up an Antipodean trace in his accent, I asked Alan where he was from.
“Ah, me too. I’m from Christchurch. Whereabouts in New Zealand are you from?”
“Promise you won’t laugh?”
I laughed out loud. There’s just something in the word ‘Twizel’ (pronounced Twy-Zil) that makes Kiwis laugh. That and I suppose that it has a population of around 1,200 (1,201 before Alan left) and probably four times as many sheep.
Twizel (pictured above during rush hour) is described lyrically on the town’s website as “an alpine village and a fly fishing paradise” (any place where people fish for flies has gotta be strange, right?).
Mmm, that’s not how I remember it. Twizel was built as recently as 1968 to house workers on the Upper Waitaki Hydroelectricity scheme, at one time reaching a population of around 6,000. It was full of hard men, in town to earn a living a hard way. Accommodation was highly segregated: in addition to single men’s quarters in the middle of town, there were different houses available – the smallest for workers, staff houses for teachers and professionals, and the largest for engineers and other ‘high-status’ residents.
[A great place to fish for flies]
It was a tough place, the sort of town you might imagine Olive Kitteridge being filmed in. Maybe Twin Peaks. Come to think of it Hitchcock might have settled on it for Pyscho. Beware the local motels. Somehow I couldn’t picture Alan in Twizel.
“I told you you’d laugh!”
“Sorry Alan. I didn’t mean to. Honest.”
We both laughed some more. The conversation, as it does with Kiwis, turned to wine, food (“I always recommend the lamb when we have it,” said Alan) and travel. I told him about a friend in the business, Barry Geoghegan, Founder & Managing Director of Barry Global Innovation, who represents one of my favourite Kiwi wines Craggy Range and of its Sales Director Warren Adamson, like me a London-based Kiwi. I recommended he seek out the Craggy Range Pinot Noir in particular.
I told Alan that I’d even wrote a spoof song about Barry called ‘I’m a Craggy Ranger and I’m ok’ sung to the tune of Monty Python’s ‘I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok’ (and mostly unprintable in a family Blog such as this). We laughed some more and I went back to my movie and Vasse Felix.
A few minutes went by and Alan returned to my side.
“I remembered that wine you mentioned and then I saw we were serving it in First Class,” Alan beamed. “So this is for you, courtesy of your friends at British Airways.”
It was a bottle of Craggy Range Pinot Noir.
How about that? Twizel’s most well-travelled son turned flying Craggy Ranger. What a wonderful touch. Thank you Alan. Thank you British Airways. It’s enough to make me burst into song. Altogether now, you know the tune…
I fly around, I serve onboard
I find it rather strange
That anyone drinks anything
Except BA’s Craggy Range
[Chorus] He’s a Craggy Ranger, he’s okay, He flies all night, he flies all day.