City Breaks: Call me stingy

Call me stingy (as I'm sure the family will, when we exchange presents), but this column's modest end-of-term prizegiving ceremony is about to begin.

Two competitions are to be resolved. First, the KLM upgrade saga. You may recall the tale of a ticket issued by the Dutch airline which uncompromisingly warned NO UPGRADE. Graham Hookings of South Glamorgan writes to say that he, like me, seems consigned for ever to economy. But others, he says, are more fortunate: "Some friends recently travelled to Mexico City with KLM. On the homeward journey they were ushered into business class.

"Then, about five weeks ago, my neighbour, together with her granddaughter and niece, travelled to Seattle with KLM. On boarding the plane for their return journey, they were ushered into business class."

The omens looked good. "I returned from San Francisco with KLM last week. As I've been a member of the frequent flyer club for a couple of years I thought if I dressed respectably I, too, might get an upgrade. Nice Aquascutum tweed jacket, tie, even took my earring out! With my fancy clothes on, I made a polite request for an upgrade when I checked in. The response was `Plane full'."

The winner, Brian Loy of Ilkley, was luckier:

"`Come with me,' beckoned the official as we waited in the departure lounge for the KLM overnight flight from Lagos to Amsterdam. We had been in Nigeria long enough to have learnt that cautious collaboration with someone in uniform tends to bring less grief than truculent resistance. `You have been upgraded to business class,' he told us unsmilingly, handing us new boarding-cards. Smoothly we sidled to a shorter queue, a queue of elegance and fragrance, of superior nourishment and more legroom.

"How did we do it? I really don't know. I was carrying all our cabin luggage, overnight bags, my wife's handbag, because you see she needed both hands to carry the stuffed crocodile, and suddenly ... well, I suppose you can't get a crocodile into the luggage racks in economy class."

A crocodile? "My wife, a biology teacher, had hoped it would improve her students' grasp of reptilian morphology. But he was wrenched from her at Amsterdam airport as an unlicensed entrant of an endangered species. Only some slick talking disengaged us from the scowls of the customs officials in time to catch the transfer flight to Leeds/Bradford."

The problem is, the prize for the best upgrade story was supposed to be a KLM amenity kit. But as I found out on my flight, economy passengers don't get one. Instead, Mr Loy wins a Great Western amenity pack from the sleeper train from Penzance to Waterloo.

From Waterloo to Abba. The name of the game in our 48-hour guide to Stockholm in October was to spot all the lines from the Swedish foursome buried in the story. (Cringeworthy example: Should the person in front of you grab the last can of Abba brand herrings, just say "If you change your mind, I'm the first in line".)

Shockingly many of you sent in bids for my copy of the greatest hits compilation Abba Gold, and almost all the references were correctly picked up. The tie-break was to make the best anagram from the 24 letters of "Agneta, Frida, Bjorn and Benny".

Apologies to Trish Marshall, of Bletchley, whose Abba tape broke while she was checking the answers. But - "My daughters and I had fun with the anagrams. Here are our faves: `Fab Ninja Gent Bra Yonder' and `Brandy Fan in ER Agent Job'."

James Peat, of Edinburgh, offers "Goran banned by friend Tanya". He adds, "After living for three years in Stockholm, a bit sad perhaps [yes], but worth a shot [no]." Mike Marshall, of Bromsgrove, too, spent time in Sweden, in 1981. "I well remember Systembolaget [the state alcohol monopoly]. The government in Sweden closed the off-licences on Saturdays, to reduce alcohol consumption. Outcome: twice as much sold on Fridays." Mr Marshall suggests "Abba faded in great joy", but comes clean and admits he is five letters short of a full alphabet.

The winner, as they say, takes it all. Karen McMullan, of Ballyclare, suggests "Nanny goat jabbed, fried'n'ran", claiming "This was actually the first line of an Abba song that never quite made it". She signs off: "Is the history book on the shelf always repeating itself? I never win prizes. Take a chance on me. Gimme, gimme, gimme the Abba Gold CD." It's all yours.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer External Trustees - Marketing, Communication & Digital/Brand Expertise

Voluntary with reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: Universit...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable