That's when I realised that the biblical references we take for granted are not fully understood by kids who have never been to Sunday school or church. Running my hand through my oily hair and blinking out the dried eye boogers whilst trying to keep my morning-breath mouth away from Sapphire's face in order not to make her heave, I tried to give a reasoned reply.
"Well, it's sort of like a half-way holding pen that God supposedly puts you in after you die when he's not sure whether you should be flung down into Satan's evil hands for all eternity or sent upwards to the angels. While he figures it out, you stay in purgatory feeling bored, powerless and in limbo."
There comes a time when all the movies, soundtracks, thin blankets and bad selfies can no longer overcome the numbness of confined spaces, stale air and overheated oompa loompa-sized trays of in-flight catering.
A time when the urge to reach out and slap a person who is already comfortably reclining in their Business Class seat as you pass them by, cruelly out of reach financially and on proud display as a representative What You Can Not Afford as you trudge through to Cramped Class at the arse-end of the plane.
Mr Migraine had also decided to pay me a visit - just to make sure that the trip back to Australia had an extra element of discomfort to it. He knew that swallowing tablets on a queasy, travel sickness-prone stomach wasn't an option, nor were ear plugs as they always tend to expand and shoot out of the sides of my head like startled wine corks.
And thus, the plane version of Purgatory began.
Firstly, the dreaded family with a screaming toddler who sat in the row directly in front of us. Yes, there was genuine pity to be had for the two exhausted parents trying their damnedest to calm down an eighteen month old who was not given their own seat and did not have the capacity to understand why their ears hurt. Well, for the first two hours at least.
Then, when the parents used up all of the nappies they had, the sympathy vanished quicker than a stewardess when the lighting's turned down and immediately flicked over to the baleful burning hot heat of hatred. And that was before the kid shat himself so badly that it spurted up and over the top of his nappy, surging towards his shoulders and onto his mother's lap. The stench of warm diarrhoea filled the cabin as his parents struggled to fashion the excrement-encrusted enfant terrible a new outfit from a plastic duty free bag and a handful of serviettes.
Love Chunks nudged me. "The old guy's BO is maturing faster than stilton on a windowsill."
He was right. Ponky Old Geezer had also got on board in Switzerland, already ripe with the aroma of his fortnightly bath day nearly due and wearing what appeared to be his entire wardrobe of winter coat, cardigan, flanelette shirt, wool scarf and flat cap. He immediately fell asleep when he buckled his broiling bulk into his seat across the aisle from LC, leaving all of his thick, sweat-creating attire on. Somehow, the baby shit and the fogey funk molecules joined, creating a suffocating arch of repulsive reeks that caused the passenger behind us to start vomiting.
Oh and did you know that 'cabin crew' no longer accept used sick bags from passengers? Something to do with health and safety or rules or disposal requirements or other. Therefore, the poor vomiting sod had to either a) hang on to the bag that eventually started dripping through the ill-made seal at the bottom; or b) find the strength to be well enough to stagger over to the toilet, wait their turn and cram it into the pencil sharpener-sized disposal chute; leaving a fetching fountain of chunder for other toilet users to happen upon. We could now add vomit to the circling stench of faeces and elderly essence....
But wait, we too had something to contribute, apart from Love Chunks' rather whipper snipper-like snore.
Sapphire tapped me on the shoulder. "Mum," she whispered. "My head feels really itchy."
I pushed her face gently back into her chair. "Yeah, we've all had dry skin. You know, with the cold air in Switzerland and the hot water..."
Travellers' breath near my face meant that she had more to say. "NO, Mum. I mean my hair is really REALLY itchy."
We shared a sideways look of surprise and recognition. It had been years. Years! "OK then, put your head in my lap."
Her noggin looked like a blonde ant farm cleaning up after a cake crumb fight: it was crawling with lice and eggs. There was nothing for it: they had to be individually picked out with my fingers; squashed into a now-dry refresher towelette and destroyed before the little buggers decided to branch out and colonise the rest of Cramped Class.
Three hours it took me, leaving my eyes and finger tips burning. Lice eggs are miniscule and stick to individual hair shafts. Try doing that kind of monkey grooming when the cabin lights have been switched off for nigh-nighs and all you've got is a poxy overhead reading light to go by. Eventually, all visible signs of infestation had been removed, shoved into a Unicef donation envelope and disposed of (thoughtfully, of course) in the toilet hatch, smearing the spilled chunder remains over the sink.
Ahhhh. If the toddler would stop screaming or if I could miraculously ignore the noise, things from now on would surely be OK.
Oh, of bloody course. "Love Chunks?" He stirred awake.
"Um, can you please check my head....?"
And so, for an hour it appeared to anyone still awake that I was publicly pleasuring my husband in Row 43 as he found eleven bugs and several dozen eggs. The itching stopped, and he tiredly leaned back with his thin blankie to go to sleep, waving away my whispered dog breath-scented sweet nothings of gratitude.
I sat there in moral turmoil. LC had finally entered the hallowed Land of Nod, his profile at peace, hands twitching occasionally in somnambulant memory of his recent nit picking. The last thing I wanted to do was disturb him, but Mother Nature was calling and I didn't fancy doing an adult recreation of the toddler's overflowing nappy.
"Um, can I get out to go to the loo....?"
My husband is a generous and kind man to me, and, rightly or wrongly assumes that I'm slimmer than I am. For that reason, he decided to scrunch up his legs and just lean them towards the right, hoping that I could sort of slide past him without him being required to stand up in the aisle.
It was a noble thought, and no doubt a practical one.
And, for that, I'm still so very sorry that I involuntarily farted at the very moment my tracksuit-covered arse brushed against his cheek.