Emer McLysaght: I am never more of a Complete Aisling than when I’m on holidays

I just took my first flight in two years, so obviously I was in an organisational flap

‘The Aisling in me has almost missed a flight because I was browsing the Clinique counter or dithering over the Boots minis.’ Photograph: iStock

‘The Aisling in me has almost missed a flight because I was browsing the Clinique counter or dithering over the Boots minis.’ Photograph: iStock

 

Whenever I get asked, “what’s the most Aisling thing you’ve ever done?”, I’m rarely stuck for an example of my similarities with the comic fictional character I helped to create, many of which come out when I’m on a trip or out of my comfort zone. 

There’s the time I went on holidays to France and within an hour of arriving at our destination had found and delightedly secured away a trolley token for the local supermarket. I was in France with my Complete Aisling co-author Sarah Breen and our friends, and I returned from the mission for Holiday Crisps and €3 wine proudly brandishing my find.

“It was just left behind in a trolley,” I shrieked and she nodded at me with a mix of fondness, amusement and of-course-it-was-and-of-course-you-found-it. After all, she was there almost 20 years ago when I showed up to camp at the Oxegen festival with my car keys on a lanyard around my neck, a padlock for my tent and a foot pump for my airbed, because the Aisling in me has security and comfort at the forefront of my mind at all times. (Someone stole my rucksack and all my worldly belongings from outside my tent as I was blowing up the aforementioned airbed – but look, that could have happened to anyone.) 

When I took my first flight in almost two years last week, I added to my Aisling credentials before I’d even finished packing. “Girls,” I texted the friends I was travelling to the Canary Islands with, “it won’t let me finish uploading my Covid cert.” I was in a bit of a flap because I’d somewhat uncharacteristically left finalising the documentation to the morning of the flight.

The 10kg suitcase can be a great trial to me as I Aisling my way through a plane journey

On top of that, I still had my tiny toiletries to sort out and was trying to agree with myself on which ones I would decant into tiny bottles and which ones I would treat myself to at the Boots three-for-two mini pick‘n’mix at the airport. I couldn’t cope with the stress of my wee plastic bag not closing fully at the top so I suspected shampoo and conditioner would have to be sacrificed.

“Hang on,” my friend Jen texted me back, “I’m looking at our booking now and when you checked us in three weeks ago, you uploaded your Covid cert then. Twice.”

So not only had I taken care of my documents three weeks previously, I had managed to take care of them twice and was now in a flap because redundantly uploading them a third time was taking precious time away from locating my folding travel toothbrush and rolling my knickers and new holiday pyjamas for maximum 10kg suitcase space. 

The 10kg suitcase can be a great trial to me as I Aisling my way through a plane journey. When people get into rages about why queues form for boarding when the seats are already assigned, I marvel that they must never have been kept up at night worrying that when they arrive to take their seat at 14C, there will be no room in the overhead bin for their carefully rolled shorts, underpants and two Going Out shirts.

What if there’s no room above 13C or 15C either? Or across the aisle? What if they’re left standing there trying to find space for their little suitcase while everyone sits glowering at them for holding up the whole show, seatbelts on, phones reluctantly in airplane mode?

“No thank you,” says the Aisling in me as I calculate how soon I need to get on the plane in order to safely stow my suitcase above my seat and buckle myself in with relief. 

The Aisling in me feels differently about queueing to get off the plane. Just do it row by row you animals! The Aisling in me worries about the person who owns the suitcase stuffed into a bin 17 rows behind them. The Aisling in me doesn’t always listen to the safety announcement but would never roar over it either.

I will admit, however, to giving it my almost undivided attention on last week’s plane “in case they changed something” in the two years I’d been out of the sky. Spoiler alert: they haven’t.

The Aisling in me has also almost missed a flight because I was browsing the Clinique counter or dithering over the Boots minis. The Aisling in me put in the wrong date of birth when checking my friend in for the Canaries flight three weeks early. The Aisling in me lost a hire car in Pamplona about 10 years ago after diligently making note that I’d parked it beside an ornate fountain before realising that Pamplona is awash with ornate fountains.

I was ultimately saved because the Aisling in me had also purchased a delicious pastry near the parking spot and was ultimately able to retrace the steps, Hansel and Gretel style.

The Aisling in me still has that French trolley token, and she’ll probably have it forever. 

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