Yvonne heads back down the aisle with another trolley of tales
Post-9/11 air travel is an ordeal, unless you're an Arab sheikh or Shanghai tycoon. That seems to be the message of Yvonne Lee Shu-yee, who is back with a sequel to her 2005 success The Sky is Crazy: Tales from a Trolley Dolly. A musician, author and devoted mother of two, Malaysia-based Lee never seems to get over the traumas of having worked as a flight attendant at an unnamed major airline based in Asia years ago.
Madness Aboard revisits the same territory, with more tales of absurdity, iniquity and just tediousness working 10,000 metres above the ground. The only way to survive - as passenger or flight worker, she seems to say - is to keep your wits and sense of humour.
But some tales here are darker, such as the immaculately dressed dragon lady who promised her a TV-hosting job while secretly trying to con her into becoming an illegal courier; Lee didn't get far enough to find out what she wanted her to smuggle. There are also stories about sexual predation as a way of life.
'In the airline I once served in ages ago, sexual predators were rife. Whether pilots or stewards, pursers or passengers, they ogled at a newbie like she was a walking piece of prime steak, a chateaubriand with a chignon and in heels.' Oh well, let's hope things have improved since then.
Some of her accounts convey far more information than we really need. Not for Lee is the light touch - the less said, the better. Here is a partial account of a sex act she witnessed in a first-class cabin.
'With her naked and taut long limbs spread over his crotch,' she writes, 'she started bouncing rhythmically with the skill of a professional equestrian. Her husband, clearly driven to a new high, responded with loud grunts. As he worked on with the ferociousness of a tiger, she reciprocated by moaning louder.' Love that phrase - 'ferociousness of a tiger'. The passage makes most trashy airport erotica read like poetry. Still, if you like to have all your clich?s and stereotypes about Asia's pilots and flight attendants confirmed, Lee's new book, which comes out next month, is for you.