A free vacuum cleaner, but don't call it sleaze

Share
Related Topics
This week it was the proposal of British Airways and American Airlines to merge that gave me a nasty turn over the morning Earl Grey. Richard Branson, whose wise and estimable Lottery plan was prey to Tory spite, and who seems to be the acceptable face of ambition in business (no doubt some wags will write in and tell me he threw their distressed grannies out of a jumbo) is against it. And so say I...

Now, I do not seek sleaze. You may say that were I sitting here dripping in diamonds and waiting for the next delivery from Lanson, it would be different.

You may say that the rich and powerful never seek a revolution in order to inherit a mud hut and a bucket of potato peelings. And you may decide that in the matter of sleaze, I am that bucket. But you would be wrong. Plain and poor as I am, I have known sleaze.

You will remember Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, a Monty Python chat-show guest whose glamour lay in owning two sheds? Well I am Mavis "Two Vacuum Cleaners" Cheek. Oh the power of the press. I merely moaned that, like my ex-boyfriend, my Miele cleaner only had to look at me and bits dropped off. And Miele, like flaming Jupiter, sent me a man with a brand new state- of-the-art machine. A veritable Koh-I-Noor of a vacuum.

I was as Queen Victoria with her blackamoors. Then another man arrives (Why use a lonely hearts column? Just contact makers of cleaning appliances) and presents me with Henry, a sturdy little creature with horrible, leering stick-on eyes, just waiting to suck, suck, suck. His manufacturers make it clear this is a gift. Thus, my sleaze. As Dorothy Parker said: some women just get a rose.

I now return you to that airline merger and the very last BA flight I deigned to take. To Italy, alone, for a week's R & R after finishing a book. Much delayed outward flight, with a chunk of the time spent locked in a bus in the sun, on the tarmac, with no explanation. My nose pressed into an hysterical Italian woman's armpit, trying to remember the Latin for "calm down" and with a strange sense of being Schindler reincarnate.

On boarding, finally, we were told the delay was due to the pilot getting on the wrong plane. This did not encourage relaxed confidence. Nor did the snowball in hell's chance of my long-distance taxi still waiting at the other end. Naples airport late at night, a woman alone? Thanks!

Well, well. A week in Amalfi and a girl forgets. But the flight back is also delayed. One boards. One does not ask why the plane is late in case, like my Miele, bits have dropped off. One decides, instead, to jot the odd Proustian jewel in one's writer's notebook. One lets down one's little table and one's little table falls to the floor. One requests a seat with a working table. Economy full. Can I upgrade? No. They imply they know my sleazy little tricks and that I probably wrenched the table from its moorings myself. What about my meal? Don't try it on with us, peasant ... They fold two blankets on to my knees and smile smugly. This is horribly uncomfortable. Can I upgrade? As if. Hard enough, God knows, to deal with a standard in-flight meal on a working table. Try dealing with it perched on a couple of blankets. Or drinks. Or writing. It was a miserable flight. Two out of two seemed rather a high failure rate.

Hoovers and sleaze tag aside, I wrote complaining. They sent me four insultingly patronising letters. Naughty, naughty, they implied, trying to get something for nothing. Er ... this is a request for compensation. I paid full fare, you gave substandard service ... A few more dingbat letters from them and I gave up. Sleaze moi? I have never used BA again.

My only experience of American Airlines was when the precious fruit of my womb flew to Washington on an outward flight. I registered her with AA's Accompanied Minors Scheme. Which was a complete failure and left my daughter wandering around Washington airport at night trying to find someone to help her. They were considerably less helpful and she was considerably panicked. No sleaze here, either. They were rude to me on the phone and did not even respond to my letter.

The thought of these careless, inefficient airlines merging and squeezing out Richard Branson is appalling. Remember Camelot, I urge you. Remember Camelot. I shall switch off the morning radio if this kind of upsetting item is going to prevail. And get up and do some hoovering. Arrivederci!

Wallace Arnold is on holiday.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A pill for obesity is a step closer, with two separate studies showing that it may be possible to influence the body’s tendency to build up damaging fat deposits beneath the skin  

Being fat is the last social taboo. It is the actual elephant in the room

Rosie Millard
The traditional Boxing Day hunt in Lacock  

For foxes' sake: Don't let the bloody tradition of the Boxing Day hunt return

Mimi Bekhechi
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all