Thursday, September 20, 2012


So I'm Sat There Next to Richard Branson, Right?

Yesterday, I flew from JFK to SFO with Sir Richard Branson and Kevin Smith for a thing; don't worry about it. Point is, like a true professional, it occurred to me about 10 minutes before boarding that I'd be sat there (British!) for nearly six hours across the aisle from Sir Richard Branson, and so maybe I could ask to talk to him? So, I asked someone if I could ask to talk to him and they said they could ask someone else. And then, a few hours later, one minute after waking up from a nap, I was tapped on the shoulder and told I could speak with him "for a few minute in a few minutes." When I asked how soon "a few minutes" was, I was told "three." All I remembered of the flight so far was that he and Kevin Smith served mimosas to everyone on board shortly after takeoff.

Did anything fun happen back there when you were waiting on people?

No, I soon realized that um, you have to think of kids differently than adults [Ed. — Pronounced "ADD-ults." Still British.] and it's important that you don't have champagne in a kid's drink.

Kevin ran back there asking for the kids to drink them.

So that was my main mistake, but actually they still gave me my Virgin steward [points to wing pin on his chest]. But I haven't served on a Virgin plane in a while, so...

Do you do that regularly?

I used to do it a lot. I've been a bit lazy lately actually, but um, it's fun. It's nice just to get out and do as many jobs as possible in a company. You know, in fact, when I was last in Australia I lifted the bags onto the uh... the whatyacallit... 

Conveyer belt.

Conveyer belt, yeah. That's a back-breaking job. So, I think it's good to experience what everybody else has to do. And it's fun to make people smile.

I think a lot of people were really shocked that you were here today, so that was fun. Everybody who I told that I was coming here to do this said that I needed to a) ask you for a million dollars and b) your phone number. And I told them all they were being crazy about both of those things. Does that happen a lot? Are people really forward with you? Like, "Lemme get your email! Lemme get your phone number! Let's be best friends!"

Well, um, beautiful girls asking for my phone number? I haven't had that for a number of years so um, uh, always happy to give my phone number. Um, million dollars? Lemme see? [Pats down pockets.] Don't carry much money around these days?

[Nervous laughter.]

I expect I talk about million-dollar propositions and things, but...

Does that get annoying, that everyone just wants to talk with you about business all the time?

Um, nah? You know, somebody just pitched a business idea from the back actually [points to a binder my elbow and mimosa are resting on], so I'm used to that. I was a struggling business person myself and know it's... if you have the opportunity, you should give it a go. So I don't blame people for it. I like people; I'm lucky. I like learning from people and one of the nice things about being a recognizable face is that you see the best in people, I think?

Well they smile. I see people boarding and they see you and they're just immediately like...

Yep, smiles are good!

Um... I saw your episode of Cribs and it was... the best.

Oh, thank you very much.

Maybe second best — Redman's was pretty good. Did you see Redman's?

Yeah. I did it some time ago, which is nice. It's always nice seeing a young version of yourself. And I'm really glad they haven't asked ot re-do it because the house was... burnt down in a lightning strike, so... we're excited to have it back again in the spring.

Oh no! You are working on it right now? What a project.


[And then he asked me if I was getting married and we chatted about that for a bit.]

Well, I wish you a beautiful wedding.

Thank you very much... does everyone call you "Sir?"

No, just Richard.

Thanks, Richard.

Lots of happiness.

75 Comments / Post A Comment


I love him the absolute best.

Richard + Jane Marie = the absolute best best.

New Hoarder

@meganmaria I LOVE HIM TOOOOOOO He has been ny Mogul Crush for years! He cracks me up.


This looks like an amazing article.@m


Richard Branson is my favorite awful person.


Also for a minute thought he was calling Redman a younger version of himself and got weirdly excited.


@melis He's my favorite crazy billionaire.


@melis SAME. Also, Jane you are my hero.


@melis I thought he was calling Redman a younger version of himself all the way up till when I read your comment. Thanks for spoiling this moment for me, melis.


@SarahP Yeah well you don't even know who Richard Branson is, SarahP, SO YOU DON'T DESERVE ANY CONSIDERATION.





Tragically Ludicrous

@melis Him and Hank Scorpio.


@Tragically Ludicrous "Nobody ever says Italy."

Reginal T. Squirge

Pretty sure anything that's ever happened to Redman is the exact opposite of anything that's ever happened to Branson.

Reginal T. Squirge

He probably thought she was talking about a Native American.

Tragically Ludicrous

@melis if you could kill someone on your way out that would be a great help.


@melis Oh man I went home early yesterday so I totally missed the fact that we had beef. (Have?)

RK Fire

@meetapossum: Where was I when this letter was being passed around??


@meetapossum That is my favorite letter of all time.

the roughest toughest frail

@meetapossum That letter is a masterpiece. "I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary."


@meetapossum The letter-writer went on to do this - https://twitter.com/olibeale/status/244749864234274819/photo/1


@FickleMoon Amazing! I saw that the other day, but I had no idea it was the same guy. I always quote the letter when someone mentions Richard Branson.


I did not know who Richard Branson was until reading this ("Is he an actor? A singer? Why is it funny that he's handing out drinks? Well, I guess of Kevin Smith is doing it..."), but he sounds lovely.


@SarahP You haven't seen his Virgin commercial? It's delightful!


@SarahP You know...I knew the face, I knew the name. But I also just realized I have no idea what he does/has done. I really thought he was an actor, too, but I guess I was thinking of Charles Bronson.


That is a pretty great picture

Jane Marie

@Megano! i think i'm snorting there.

Reginal T. Squirge

Yeah, I would frame that if I were you.


@Jane Marie What is that jacket? Is it leather? Is it white? Who made it? I was really looking for a white leather jacket like that but I found a recentish black Chloe bomber jacket for $170 so that sated me for a bit but looking at your jacket, I feel unsated.

Jane Marie

@Lana @twitter it's by Georgie and it's faux snakeskin and it was a gift. A GIFT, I SAY!


"Well, um, beautiful girls asking for my phone number? I haven't had that for a number of years so um, uh, always happy to give my phone number." OMG Richard Branson was totally twitterpated.


@heyhaley I had the same thought...is Richard Branson hitting on Jane?!?!

Jane Marie

@IceHouseLizzie hey now, what's with all the question marks?!?! ;) no, i think he was just being gracious.

Lily Rowan



His episode of Cribs IS the best. Mariah cameo! The unabashed last shot of him on the toilet! Perfection.


You should have invited him to the wedding! My cousin was fairly friendly with him years ago (like, mid-1990s), and when she got married, he supposedly gave them round trip first class tickets anywhere in the world for their honeymoon as a gift.


@hellonheels I say supposedly because I was like 10 at that time and not invited to said wedding and this story came via my mother whose intel is usually about 75% accurate.

Lia LoBello@facebook

this is so great jane! i love this and i love the photo!

Jane Marie

@Lia LoBello@facebook thanks lia! :)


So I just realized that apparently I say 'adult' all Britishy. Do all Canadians? I'll just have to go around and ask everyone I know to say it I guess.


@girlandtonic I think I might? Is the opposite "ad-ULT" like you're trying to swallow your own tongue? Because I don't do that.


@MilesofMountains Yes! Or like "uh-dult". I definitely don't say it that way. Oh wait, unless I'm saying the phrase "young adult". Dammit! Now I'm all confused.


I realize I am in the minority here, but I would have given anything to be seated next to Kevin Smith.

I adore him. Clever writer, gracious and helpful to up and comers, loves the cuss out of his wife, and just all-around creatively industrious.

I mean, yes, Richard Branson is delightful, but after my three minutes were up, I would have listened to Kevin Smith read the phone book.

Jane Marie

@karion Kevin was asleep or interviewing other people, but he was very nice to me during our brief exchanges. And he insisted on getting my bag down when we landed.


@Jane Marie: this is another entry in my "why I have the hots for Kevin Smith" column.


@karion He put his kids in the daycare where my mom worked while filming a movie, and she said that the kids (and their mom) were delightful and incredibly polite.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@karion In 12th grade, when asked who my role model was, I replied "I don't have one. But I guess if I had to pick? Kevin Smith."

Deanna Destroi

@karion THANK YOU. I get made fun of for my Kevin Smith crush, but he is SO witty and clever and genuinely nice. His streams of swearing are to me what sweet nothings are to a normal person. I do not think I would've been half as cool as Jane if I'd been on a flight with him.


Erm, dare I ask what those silver knobby things are on the seat? On a plane called Virgin??


@SuperGogo Reading lamps. They're extra fancy in business class.

Flora Poste

Richard Branson sponsored our town's big event of the year, the "Bognor Birdman" competition, (where you have to make your own flying contraption and jump off the pier, it's amazing) and he flew in a specially made thing and went really high up in the air and we all thought he was lost forever. But he wasn't, luckily.

ALSO apologies for any incoherence here, i just won a bottle of wine in a raffle, so.


So fecking jealous!! I fly Virgin Atlantic exclusively when I go to London. Sir Richard is so hot!!


I love this. When I taught business English abroad, one lesson involved reading a short bio of Richard. All the women discussed his attractiveness and if they would marry him, and for what reasons. Reading this interview makes me realize he is way cooler than I realized.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

I know you said not to worry about it, but... What was the thing, Jane? WHAT WAS THE THING?


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Seriously. Is she going to be the new face of Virgin Atlantic? Is she going to leave us? What is going to happen?


I think it's cool that he tries to walk around in the shoes of his employees now and then.

And if I was on that flight I probably would've been like PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE THE KIDS MIMOSAS. That way they would all fall asleep, and all of the adults could have a peaceful flight (umm, this is why I don't have kids).

oh well never mind

Pssst why is "I'd be sat there" British? I'm British and I don't get that bit. Do Americans not say this?

Hot Doom

@moosette Nope, we'd say 'I was seated there' rather than 'I was sat there'.

oh well never mind

@LolaLaBalc Thanks! I used to have to localise documents from US to UK English (and sometimes vice versa, argh!) so I find this kind of thing interesting in a geeky way.

Hot Doom

@moosette That sounds like a cool thing to do! Yeah, I only just noticed this turn of phrase recently (like, last week), but lots more of these little differences have come to light as my British husband proofreads my papers for my MA (in England) and points out what makes me sound American in writing.

every tomorrow@twitter

Richard Branson is Zaphod Beeblebrox. Seriously. Did he seem like he was hiding a third arm or second head, Jane? Because I'm telling you guys he is absolutely Zaphod Beeblebrox.


@every tomorrow@twitter Oh my god you're totally right.


AHHHHHH, Jane, this is so fantastic - kids boozing, chatting up Richard, flying Virgin. Hope you got his number.

oh well never mind

Depends what it was - IT stuff was always dull but I used to do this site every so often: http://www.girlworlddaily.com and it was a challenge deciphering what was teen speak and what needing localising!


You guys, I remember when his house burned down, because Kate Winslet saved his 90-year-old mother from the fire? Basically the best celebrity news story of all time: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/kate-winslet-rescues-richard-bransons-mother-fire-caribbean/t/story?id=14358764


@sophia_h YES I remember this! I ganked it from AP for the awful newspaper I was editing at the time, and the publisher was all, is this interesting to people? And I told him very firmly that YES it was VERY interesting. Fire! Celebrity! Mother!


I'm too lazy to google Richard Branson, but Jane, you got chops to pick up that tape. This is why you are a pro-fessional.


my boyfriend flew to london on thursday and was also on the plane with sir richard branson. homeboy gets arooooound


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