Phil, Tony & Britannia

As I commence this essay it’s 3.04am on Friday 18th October. Yours truly currently seated 39009 feet above Newfoundland, travelling at 612mph on an Air Transat flight to Manchester. GPS data available to fellow passengers and me highlighting we have four more hours and seven minutes until we reach our destination.

I’ve started penning this monologue in an attempt to stop me falling asleep and waking up with my head on the guy next to me’s shoulder; similar to the late John Candy’s character in the comedy movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles.


The person in question a doppelgänger of Tony Soprano’s nemesis, ruthless New York mobster Phil Leotardo, in the HBO drama The Sopranos. Consequently, I’m not taking any chances at antagonising this guy who, if he is a hood, may take retribution by making me an blood-curdling ’offer I can’t refuse’, such as extorting me into paying for the normally gratis in-flight entertainment with a threat of “It’d be a shame if something should happen if you don’t!!”

As Phil Leotardo is a fictional character, clearly this guy isn’t him, but my fatigue torments my minds logic functionality, introducing with it unnecessary angst levels. For those who aren’t clear what the fictional mobster looks like, he’s fairly similar facially to veteran US crooner Tony Bennett. The New York born singer who famously sang about leaving his heart in San Fransisco.

Phil Leotardo

I’ve concluded from his presence on the flight, if this is Tony Bennett sitting to my right then he can’t have left his passport in Toronto. However, as is the case with the actor who played Leotardo, I’d posit I’m not perched next to the aged US singer. For one thing, I doubt the multi-millionaire Bennett would be flying economy class with Air Transat.

Tony Bennett

Anyhow, in four hours I’ll be back in Blighty; my homeland and the place where there are some national menu options which don’t include cheese and bacon. I’m a big fan of both foods, however I think it’ll be prudent on my return to embark upon a healthier diet than I’ve followed during the previous two weeks in Canada.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the food I’ve been cooked throughout this fortnight break, both from my Brockville hosts and on the occasions I dined out. However, I’d venture the cardiac nurses who’ve been my dietary guides following January’s heart attack, would no doubt look on disapprovingly at GJ Strachan’s increase in fat and cholesterol intake during this last fortnight.

Consequently, when I get back to my mum’s Wakefield abode at around midday I’m going to request Friday’s evening meal contains vegetables. Yesterday’s lunch of the Canadian dish poutine, which incorporates amongst it’s ingredients fries, gravy and cheese curds; the catalyst of a deeply uncomfortable calorific infused stomach ache.

This a bloated feeling I’d not experienced since my buddy Mike and me, during a boozy night at a T20 cricket match, consumed fish and chips, along with a doner kebab within a few hours of each other. 

GPS is now advising we’re three hours and twenty minutes away from landing upon the sceptres isles legend submits is protected by Britannia. The goddess, armed with a trident, shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet who became a national personification of the United Kingdom during the 2nd century Roman occupation of Britain.

It was Britannia who 18th century English composer Thomas Arne told us ruled the waves. The same man giving further submissions that Britons never, never shall be slaves. Arne commencing his reverential prose about the goddess with the following inaugural verse and chorus;-

“When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
Arose, arose, arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves……”

As much as I’ve loved my Canadian experience, I’d find it hard to ever take up permanent residency in any nation other than those that make up the British Isles. Even our capricious climate cannot diminish my love for the lands of my birth, breeding and adulthood. If I did, though, Canada is one of the few places globally that I could be tempted to re-locate to…… If they’d have me of course!!

Anyhow, I’m knackered as I’ve not slept for over 24 hours due to return journey logistics…… Consequently, yours truly is gonna bring this narrative to a conclusion and attempt to get some kip. Before I go, altogether now……… “When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main……….”

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