I fly either Qantas or Air New Zealand when I take a trip back to Australia. Most people become giddy with anticipation when they take the step from the jet bridge into the airplane. It’s the step when the planning and excitement of seeing new places and meeting new people move from the future to the present. However, for me, it’s the step announcing the planes push back from the gate and the in-flight safety video playing as we’re lumbering along the taxiways to the runway for take-off. I’ll be the first to admit there was a time when I thought the in-flight safety video was as fascinating as the History of Australian Farming films Mr. McDevitt would show in our second form, Williamstown Tech, Social Studies class. I remember those old fashion in-flight safety videos. As soon as the talking-head video started, each of the cabin crew would stand in a strategic position with a life jacket and oxygen mask. You followed along with the talking head using the safety card from the seat pocket. When the talking head got to the life jacket and oxygen mask, they asked you to pay attention to the cabin crew as they demonstrated putting them on.
Some airlines have now changed the format of their in-flight safety videos. I think they’re trying to get a planeload of indifferent travellers glued to their phones, which are probably not set to airplane mode, to pay attention to the videos. Qantas and Air New Zealand have a well-earned reputation for quirky, entertaining, must-watch safety videos. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing a Qantas seventeen-hour nonstop flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Sydney. As soon as I showed my boarding pass and became part of the jet bridge gridlock, the giddiness started. It intensified when the doors closed, and the in-flight safety video started. The video was all about Tim Tam slams, rooftop cricket, and Vegemite on toast; just Aussies doing typical Aussie things. The Aussies doing Aussie things told us how to put on a life-jacket, about not smoking in the lavatory, how to buckle the seat belt, and the whereabouts of the emergency exits. They did all this while doing bombs into a ritzy hotel swimming pool and splashing people, jumping into the front seat of a New York taxi, and trying to order flat whites in a London cafe. There were Aussies on a jeep safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and one of them dropped their cell phone while taking a selfie. So we were warned about the dangers of fiddling around under our seats if we drop a small electronic device; we should ask one of the cabin crew to find it..
I thought about the dangers of fiddling on the floor, and between the seats, of an airplane and concluded that it doesn’t matter what you drop, it’s dangerous down there. Once, I dropped a moist ball of quinoa. I’d just loaded the small plastic dinner fork with some quinoa from my in-flight meal of chicken salad with quinoa when the plane flew into some slight turbulence. The quinoa laden fork flew sideways in reaction to the plane’s motion, and the quinoa took off into the air, landed on my shirt front, and onto the seat between my legs. At the time, I didn’t realise the dangers of reaching for moist quinoa between your legs. If I ever drop quinoa again, I’ll ask one of the cabin crew to find it.
I’d hate to think about dropping a contact lens; there’d be Buckley’s chance of finding it. Even if the cabin crew threw themselves onto the floor, I don’t think they’d be able to see it right off because of the total darkness between the seats. I’ve noticed though that cabin crew members now have a little hands-free LED light clipped onto their jacket lapel, or a miniature LED torch in their pocket. Bob’s your uncle; it is turn on the torch, whack it between the teeth, and then straight down onto the floor for a few well-executed, flawless worms to check under and between the seats. You’d have your dropped contact back in no time.
Most of the time, an in-flight meal choice on an international flight will reflect the culture of the airline’s country. You’re always going to find Arnott’s biscuits on Qantas, and it’s a good bet you’ll come across a barramundi or lamb dish, and passion fruit in a fruit salad. I’m surprised though that the Qantas menu doesn’t include meat pies, fish and chips, battered savs, or vanilla slices and lamingtons. I think pies are missing because there’s a high risk of a fire if you drop a meat pie. The warm chunky meat, rich gravy, and tomato sauce from a dropped pie is going to splatter onto the seat-back entertainment screen, the seat fabric between your legs, and the floor. It’s a penny to a quid the mix of chunky warm meat, rich gravy, and tomato sauce will cause a voltage surge when it lands on the entertainment screen and floor; thus causing a short-circuit of all of the in-flight entertainment electronics. Imagine the panic and confusion caused by the cabin crew rushing through the aeroplane with fire extinguishers and spraying the seats. The slurry of foam, dropped chunky warm meat, gravy, and tomato sauce wouldn’t be a pretty sight. It’s only to be equalled by a dropped pie at the footy.
It’s the final quarter on a cold winter Saturday afternoon at the Western Oval, and you’re standing in the outer with a few mates. You’re balancing on tiptoe, between busted beer bottles and crushed tinnies, trying hard not to stand in the puddles of vomit and spilled beer. Without warning, you drop your half-eaten meat pie and gravy, and sauce coated pie. It spatters into the sludge of vomit, urine, and beer at your feet, and that’s not a pretty sight. Australians use the expression, dropped meat pie, to describe someone with an unflattering appearance.
Graham: G’day Col. Yu gotta give it to Bruce; he hooked up with this sheila last night who’s got a ripper of a body
but a face like a dropped meat pie.
Colin: What, like a welders bench?
Graham: Na mate, a dropped pie
Colin: A dropped pie, or a bashed in rubbish tin lid?
I think the other reason meat pies are missing from Qantas’s in-flight menu choice is because of how easy meat pie can be used as offensive, shaming language.
Australians are known for shortening words, so in Aussie vernacular saveloy becomes sav. A sav is a bright red, seasoned, pork sausage, and they’re usually cooked by simmering in boiling water for a few minutes. Most Aussies eat their sav wrapped in a slice of buttered white bread smothered in tomato sauce. Savs are also a traditional fish and chip shop favourite. A fish and chip shop sav is coated in batter and deep-fried, and it’s known as a battered sav. Battered savs should only be eaten with an order of chips.
There’s nothing that will pique your interest more than a Friday night torchlight ghost tour of old buildings; especially if it’s on an old-time tram that has it’s seating converted to a dining car style so you can enjoy fish ‘n’ chips and a soft drink at your table. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I never saw tram lines in Fremantle, so I was expecting a W class green tram to turn up at the tour pick up location. The old-time tram was a bus with padded wooden bench seats, and an open-air mocked up flimsy tram body. As soon as we settled into our bench seating, the tram driver/tour leader took our order for Cicerello’s fish and chips; the Fremantle seafood institution in the heart of Fishing Boat Harbour. And I wondered if you could order a battered sav at a must-do Fremantle fish and chip shop experience. I was soon to find out because a fellow ghostbuster loudly proclaimed “no fish”. Without hesitation, the tram driver/tour leader offered him crumbed sausages ‘n’ chips or a chicken nuggets ‘n’ chips kids meal with a few extra nuggets and chips thrown in. A crumbed sausage is the twin brother of the battered sav. The only difference between the two is a heavy coating of breadcrumbs instead of batter, and a crumbed sausage can be grilled or barbecued. The no fish ghostbuster opted for crumbed sausages ‘n’ chips, provoking the tram driver/tour leader to reply, “hang on mate, I’ve got chooks, and I’ve fed them those sausages, and they won’t bloody touch them”.
There’s nothing like a good orb hunting to arouse one’s hunger. The tram driver/tour leader assured us we’d see orbs at the Fremantle Roundhouse and perhaps the ghostly spirit of 15-year-old John Gavin, the first European descendent executed in Western Australia. Our group peered into the old dark cells and down into the central well, but it was in vain, and so we boarded the old-time tram and headed off for Cicerello’s for our order of fish ‘n’ chips and crumbed sausages ‘n’ chips. The no fish ghostbuster declared Cicerello’s crumbed savs to be bloody delicious.
During the Sydney 2000 Olympics games, the battered sav was redefined by Australia’s comedic duo Roy and HG. It became more than just a saveloy coated in batter and deep-fried. Roy and HG did the commentary on several events at the games, and one of their most entertaining was gymnastics. They used the term battered sav to describe when a male gymnast leaps into the air, lands in a push-up position, and touches his groin to the floor.
Alexei does a double spin … an awkward landing … a corkscrew and then the double corkscrew, now he batters the sav… yes, that was a nice battered sav …. straight into the handstand, a simple sidestep to reposition himself, back he comes, a big jump, back he comes, and oooh, a big batter the sav.
Qantas’ sensitivity to offensive and distasteful language must be why a battered sav isn’t on their in-flight menu.
You will need to excuse me. I need to order a dozen meat pies from the Aussie Food Express. I’m thinking of dipping the pies in batter and frying them. I’ll make the batter from flour, salt, pepper, and beer. The fizz from the beer should make the batter light, crispy, and golden. I wonder if a battered pie and sauce is as tasty as a battered sav.