It takes a lot to make English people riot. Just occasionally, they will be pushed into it, as I recently found out on a flight back to the UK. Our plane was redirected to France, which people initially took with the usual stoicism. Safety cards were used as makeshift fans. Selfies were sent to relatives back home, with captions like: ‘I’m in Paris, lol!’

As we were escorted off the plane, there were still audible musings on how ‘things could be worse!’ But then followed three hours of abandonment at an empty luggage belt. No information. No food. No bags. The English grew uncharacteristically quiet. How would they get back home? Where would they sleep? Where were their bags? People started looking mildly irked. And then came the turning point.

Close to midnight, our bags were finally spotted – behind a locked and alarmed door! “I’ve got twenty quid’s worth of Greek baklava in there!” a man cried. And that was it. At the thought of snacks, the English went berserk. “Feed the baby the last biscuit!” one mum shouted, as if it was the final message to her family before going into battle, which is exactly what she did, followed by three more mums, then the entire plane. Doors were rattled, alarms were set off. There were screams of “Je voudrais thé” and “avec du lait!”

Faced with 200 irate Brits, the French gave in and allocated us all hotels for the night. In the morning, still somewhat riotous, we reconvened on a new plane back to the UK. “I know you’ve had a terrible time,” the captain announced, “but please be kind to my crew.” At this, everyone sat down, fastened their seatbelts and ordered a cup of tea with the utmost civility. They were English, after all.

Maria Smedstad bio Scan Magazine

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