For Christmas Tommy got a Buzz Lightyear. He also got a heap of toys the size of the Eiffel Tower, but Buzz was the biggest hit. Buzz is 30cm high, is very handsome and sturdy, has popping-out wings, a laser, a control panel on his arm with which he can contact Star Command and a fine jutting chin. He says things like, “Local law enforcement, it’s about time you got here – my ship has crash landed here by mistake” which makes us all feel very important and when we put him down and forget about him he pipes up with “Hello – are you still there?” and “Hello … anybody?” which makes us all feel a little spooked.
So Tommy got Buzz when we were in England as that is where we spent Christmas this year. Newport Pagnell to be precise – the place where Morrissey once left his bag and then mentioned the fact in a song just in case anyone had found the bag and felt like returning it to him in return for a condescending sneer and some daffodil bulbs to plant out. Anyway, we then got the plane back to France a few days after Christmas and of course Tommy refused to put his favourite toy in a suitcase and had to carry Buzz all the way through the various control channels at Luton airport and onto the plane. What with the suitcases, the coats, hats, scarves, boots, the hundred people pushing past to get the best seats and Tommy falling asleep in my arms just as we sat down in the plane, I quickly shoved Buzz and Tommy’s coat underneath the seat in front of him. We took off, Tommy slept, the kids in front of us insisted on shouting every single word that came out of their horrid little mouths despite my boyfriend asking them to keep it down a bit as our son was having his nap, I wondered why their mother didn’t make more of an effort to shut them up and started sending out secret daggers of pain and flames of FRENCH TERROR* in their direction. About halfway through the flight I suddenly heard the eldest little boy – he must have been about six – say “Mum! Look! It’s Buzz!” and through the crack in-between the seats I caught a glimpse of plastic white spacesuit with green edging in his hands. He’d got Buzz. Then there was a bout of heavy turbulence and while scrambling back into his seat he dropped Buzz onto the floor. I knew what I had to do: I stretched my leg right under the seat as far as it would go and hooked Buzz back with my foot, all the while holding a snoozing Tommy in my arms. Buzz was safe, back in chartered territory. But the Evil Emporer Zurg wasn’t going to give up so easily; the brats’ mother called an air host over and said, “Excuse-me, but our space toy has slipped under the seat – could you help us find it?” I couldn’t believe my ears. Zurg was trying to persuade our Flight Commander Assistant that Buzz was her own property in order to capture him and carry him off to an alien galaxy! This was an intergalactic emergency! The man said “pardon?” and Zurg repeated her blatently dishonest request replacing the phrase “space toy” with “robot man”. Sacrilege. I couldn’t hold back any longer, Buzz needed my protection and as a fellow elite Member of the Space Ranger Corps I knew what my duty was. I said very loudly and very firmly, “That’s my son’s toy.” The air host looked at me, and then back at Zurg, then back at me. “Tommy got Buzz for Christmas”, I continued. “His wings are standard issue, the finest atrillium carbon alloy design and he’s stationed up in the Gamma Quadrant of Sector 4. He protects the galaxy from the threat of invasion by the Evil Emporer Zurg who is clearly trying to see to his demise.” – I pointed my chin towards Zurg who was bright red and looking very uncomfortable. And then I drove my light saber in harder : I turned Buzz upside down to reveal the bottom of his right foot where I’d written “TOMMY” in thick black permanent marker a few days before. The air host smiled and winked at me before turning to the Evil Emporer Zurg with a withering look and saying “I think you’re mistaken, madam” and he returned to his drinks trolley and lottery cards. Zurg slipped down in her seat as low as possible and spent the rest of the flight hissing “sssshhh!” at her kids who kept shouting just as loudly as ever “But what about the Buzz we just found? Mum? What about the Buzz I found under my chair?”
When Tommy woke up he wanted Buzz turned on and seeing as there weren’t any other sleeping children around and we only had another ten minutes of flight to go, I happily complied. So we had Buzz noisily making all his laser, space-flight, control panel sound effects, which wound up the kids in front of us even more, and saying things like “I sense something … LOOK-OUT!” and “my sensors indicate Zurg is in the area, take cover!”
It was a close call, but Buzz made it through and is now sitting on my desk keeping me company as I write. Tommy adores him and Buzz seems to like Tommy too as I have caught him saying “You, my friend are one of my favourite life forms – really, you are – a space ranger never lies.” Yes, Buzz never lies. Unlike the Evil Emporer Zurg, mother of two and profiteering lower life form. May she squirm in painful embarrassement and shame at the thought of that flight, to infinity and beyond.
(*flames of FRENCH TERROR : this is a phenomenom which deserves an entire month of entries but for now you just need to know that they are very painful, very effective and you can send them out to people across continents without them losing their force. I employ them on a regular basis and the great thing is, they can’t be tracked down. So I’m safe and happily basking in the warm satisfaction of having got back at the Post Office/my bank/the man who stole my parking space/the Evil Emporer Zurg)