Back in the days when we had air flair

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

THERE was a time when a plane trip was syn­ony­mous with el­e­gance, glam­our and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Peo­ple dressed up for it. The first air trav­eller in our street was an el­e­gant fowl named Doreen. She was fly­ing to Eng­land, or home, as so­phis­ti­cates called it back then. Be­fore she left, a neigh­bour­hood gag­gle gath­ered to bask in her re­flected glam­our.

‘‘ What are you wear­ing on the plane, Doreen?’’ asked an ea­ger hair­net. ‘‘ Go on, Dor, model it for us,’’ urged an apron. While Doreen read­ied her­self, aprons, hair­nets, rollers and slip­pers closed in around the teapot.

‘‘ Lucky thing,’’ sighed a pair of slip­pers. ‘‘ I’d love to fly.’’

‘‘ New feathers would do me,’’ cack­led a head of rollers.

There was a col­lec­tive screech as Doreen, plumed in a pale blue linen coat and pill-box hat, with im­mac­u­late white shoes, gloves and hand­bag, stepped into the kitchen. She paused, preened, smiled, rock­ing from one pointy-toed, stilet­toed foot to the other and then, to a cho­rus of squawks, sashayed across the lino. At the stove she turned, tossed her head and peeled back the coat to re­veal a co-or­di­nated pol­ished cot­ton sheath frock.

‘‘ Ta da,’’ she trilled, throw­ing her arms out, clout­ing a hair­net with the hand­bag, swip­ing an apron with the coat.

‘‘ Oh, Dor, it’s gor­geous,’’ cooed the apron ‘‘ Where did you get it?’’ ‘‘ Mar­lene Modes.’’ ‘‘ You’ll need a gir­dle with that tummy,’’ sniped the hair­net.

‘‘ Hav­ing your hair set?’’ in­quired the rollers, scru­ti­n­is­ing Doreen’s col­laps­ing bee­hive. ‘‘ To­mor­row morn­ing.’’ ‘‘ Pi­lot bet­ter watch out, eh girls?’’ clucked the slip­pers.

Next af­ter­noon, the street was out to wave Doreen off. Cov­etous eyes ac­com­pa­nied a quar­tet of nico­tine-coloured bags into the boot of the Holden: a stream­lined suit­case with ex­pand­able catches, an el­e­gant week­ender, a so­phis­ti­cated brief­case and a glam­orous heart-shaped, quilted, gold-han­dled make-up case. Jeal­ous si­lence fol­lowed Dor’s re­con­structed bee­hive and re­gally wav­ing glove as they dis­ap­peared from sight.

Whether it was the spell of Doreen’s en­sem­ble, or her so­phis­ti­cated charm, she did be­witch a pi­lot some­where en route. She never re­turned. Oc­ca­sion­ally, red and blue-edged en­velopes would land in let­ter­boxes, ad­dressed in Doreen’s el­e­gant hand, a de­li­ciously for­eign stamp in one cor­ner, a mys­te­ri­ous par­avion in the other. Then tales of her glam­orous life at ‘‘ home’’ would speed along the teacups, from rollers to hair­net, from felt slip­pers to apron. And Avion en­joyed a high sea­son as a name for neigh­bour­hood new­borns.

Glam­orous so­phis­ti­cates have all but dis­ap­peared from mod­ern air­craft. The bee­hive is as rare as the hair­net and the roller. Hats and gloves have gone, like slip­pers and aprons. Even in busi­ness class, where some el­e­gance sur­vives, the frock and coat en­sem­ble has van­ished.

‘‘ What are you wear­ing on the plane?’’ is an ar­chaic ques­tion. Trav­ellers of the 21st cen­tury don’t dress to im­press but for con­ve­nience, com­fort and cam­ou­flage. Wise to air­port X-rays and searches, they’ve aban­donned stilet­tos for Vel­cro tab run­ners. They’ve given up gir­dles for elas­ticwaisted track­ies. Sur­vivors of meal-time tur­bu­lence have tossed off pas­tels for teriyaki tones.

To­day’s ports, too, are a long way from Doreen’s to­bacco-tinted clas­sics. The stream­lined suit­case is a sin­is­ter shrink-wrapped hulk or a soft, shape­less sack.

The com­puter bag has bumped the brief­case. The back­pack has usurped the week­ender. And the mis­er­able plas­tic snap-lock bag has eclipsed the glam­orous make-up case. And Avion, as a name, has def­i­nitely fallen from favour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.