Leaving Dublin on a 6 am flight meant getting out of bed at 3.30, or was it 3.00? Breakfast was in an airport cafe which could have provided grease enough to lubricate a plane
It did mean being in the middle of Amsterdam before 10.00 on a Friday morning; time to go to the Rijksmuseum to see the Vermeers and Rembrandt’s ‘The Nightwatch’, before having breakfast, or lunch, at a cafe in a park.
The onward flight was in the mid-afternoon and lunch was served soon after take off, but it being a good twelve hours since we had got up, it could have been an evening meal; though the advice on avoiding jet lag said to try to behave as if it was the time at one’s destination, in which case, it was the third breakfast.
The flight passed quickly, the shortage of sleep quickly made up in KLM comfort. It was knowing the time that was the problem; it is easy to become disorientated. The in-flight entertainment included an easily listening channel; two hours of hits from 1958 and 1968 played in a loop.
Mrs Robinson raised questions, as it always does,
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
“Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away”
Enough! Three breakfasts were sufficiently confusing without Mrs Robinson being told that Jesus loves her more than she can know. Raising the blind brought in sight the western coast of Greenland; a strange land, a place of dreams, or nightmares. Soon it was Canadian airspace and then the ice of Hudson Bay.
In which Province did the Mrs Robinson come round again? Were we over northern Manitoba?
The chief steward announced that dinner would be served; this would be the fourth meal of the day, so perhaps it should be dinner, though it was only mid-afternoon at our destination, so it should be lunch; though there had been lunch earlier in the flight, and the food at midday in Amsterdam. Perhaps this was the third lunch.
Landing in Vancouver at just after the hour at which we had taken off from Europe meant being there in good time for an evening meal. Picking up the hire car and going to our accommodation, we collected our hostess and went to a restaurant for an early dinner.
Drinking Canadian beer, I looked across the table and said, “We were in the Rijksmuseum this morning”.
Each time I visit someone in hospital who has undergone anaesthesia; who is coping with high levels of medication; who has no routine sleep pattern; who is disorientated by disturbances and treatments; I remember that day of disorientation last June – and all I had to cope with was an air flight and Simon and Garfunkel.