Be wary of whom you end up next to on a plane. They may just ruin your relaxation rituals, discovers Alan Perrott.

Just one more tut and I'd be writing this from a cell.

Because it's never how you travel, it's whom you travel with that matters, and truth be told I'd be happiest with an inflatable doll in the seat next to me.

Partly it's my knees.

They're busted. Which means if they're stuck in one position for too long they feel like expanding balloons.


And that makes me grumpy. So I always try to book a bulkhead seat whenever I fly. It's good for me, good for the crew, good for humanity.

Short people don't need extra room, I'd even argue they should be kept at home so as not to give foreigners the wrong impression of our gene pool, but that's a different story.

I'm not even the first person to think of the idea so I'm always having to remind myself to prepare to remember to make the call to make the booking - see how complicated it is?

So, there I was, bouncing with excitement and having got myself nice and sorted well in advance, boarding my flight to London. My destination meant less to me than the prospect of 24 hours of glorious me time with glorious leg room.

I even smiled at the sweet old lady in the seat next to me and was already plotting my armrest monopoly as I offered to hoist her carry-on into the overhead locker.

My good times got even better when the stewardess offered me a beverage.

"I'll have a bloody mary thanks." I don't know why but it's always been my traditional first drink when flying - never touch one otherwise - and I was settling back to have my first slurp when it started: "You're not going to drink much alcohol are you?"

Eh? Was this my old granny? The lovely woman who'd post me clippings on all the evils that might lead to my life being lived in a ditch?

Like hell, so: "Well, I might have a couple ... I'm on holiday you see and it's good to start as you mean to go on."

"I'd really rather you didn't," she replied with sad, lonely eyes.

No, I'm not having this, she's not getting the better of my good times, and even though it hadn't been my plan I downed my glass and ordered another. If the disappointed "oh dear" was one thing, the carriage line of tut-tut-tuts was quite another.

You'd think I'd just told her we were putting her in a home. For her own good of course. We were on like Donkey Kong.

The only thing better than two far-too-early bloody marys is a badly timed whiskey ... so whiskey it was. Would she like one? No, she would not, just a glass of water thank you very much.

That's how it's going to be is it? I turned on my screen to find the most violent and gratuitous movie they had on offer.

Okay, it's inflight entertainment, so it's not all that violent. She didn't notice anyway as she'd been busily twisting her body like that chick from The Exorcist so she could tut out the window at whatever bit of the wing was dominating our view. I edged a bit more armrest while pushing the button for a hostess.

I can go for hours, baby ...

About an hour out from LA she started telling me about her operation. Low blow. Heart problems you see, oh, I am such a heartless scumbag. "Hostess ... "

Tut-tut-tut ...

Right, time for my trump card: A picture of the kids.

"Oh lovely ... but you should cut down on the drinking then dear, you want to enjoy them when you're my age don't you?"

Well played you evil woman, well played.