Once upon a time someone sat down somewhere other than on the floor or in a tree for the first time.
The chair was born.
A little while later someone invented a machine that could fly through the sky.
The plane was born.
And when the plane people got round to creating passenger versions they quickly realised that the aforementioned invention would be well suited to their invention so popped some seats in.
Chairs on planes. Marvellous. The end.
No no no. Really really far from the end.
In all the time that life has existed there is no place where more thought has gone into a chair than on a plane. The most ambitious and slow-moving carpenter in history would not be able to take as long building a chair as the sky seat folk.
This is not down to laziness. It is due to the extraordinary value of every inch of space on a plane.
When the design team at Virgin Atlantic were given the task of designing a new Upper Class chair (Dream Suite is the official title) the instructions must have been met predominantly with abject terror. And perhaps a dash of professional excitement.
Their mission, whether they chose to accept it or not, was to build a better chair, a roomier chair, a more comfortable chair, a more useful and passenger friendly chair (marvellous so far) but fit more of them into the same amount of space.
This is the moment that I would have backed slowly and stealthily out of the room before entering run and hide mode.
Impossible. Ridiculous. Silly. A child with a round peg and square hole could tell you this.
But, it turns out, it isn't silly or impossible. I know this because the airline kindly invited me and a fellow journalist from the Sunday Times to have the first peek at these magic seats on the new A330 aircraft (Miss Sunshine) before its first trip to New York JFK International Airport on Saturday (21).
It's important before I tell you more to take into account that the people who designed the current Upper Class seat weren't given free rein (or reign, both are fine) to throw the chairs around the cabin willy nilly without a care in the world. There were no gaping holes of space left empty in the pursuit great Fung Shui lines.
They were given the same instructions as the people behind the chair I'm unveiling today. As many chairs as possible, but make them super duper. It was those folk who invented the fishbone formation that the airline patented and owns. Clever folk - so trumping their work is a spectacularly difficult task.
And that is why is has taken four years. Four years. And lordy knows how many people hours. There was a shortlist of six concepts, slowly whittled down over time and alterations and finessing have been thorough.
It's also worth knowing that these design folk don't lock themselves away and emerge one day with the perfect chair. Endless interviews of everyone involved to get opinions and perspectives from as many places as possible take place. Right through to the maintenance men who have to fix the chairs when something goes wrong that led to the chair being built in four sections and therefore easier to maintain.
And then when a prototype was ready the airline's most frequent Upper Class flyers were invited to spend the night on one of the chairs in a large shed. An invitation that is rarely refused by the way such is the excitement around new chairs on planes.
It took about 30 seconds for the first issue to arise and it goes to show that however clever a designer is and no matter how hard they work to get into the mindset of a customer, there is simply nothing more useful than sticking a frequent flyer in the chair for the night.
The troublemaker was a woman with a Mulberry bag. The issue was the foot rest. When testing took place it was a thin solid base with a larger head. Imagine a mushroom. It is now a hollow ottoman with a fold up lid. The reason for the change is that the lady in question went to put her handbag down and could find nowhere she liked the look of to pop it. Out with the mushroom, in with the hollow ottoman.
When the chair had been tested and retested and retested again it finally made its way onto a plane.
Walking onto the plane the first thing everyone will see, irrespective of whether they are turning left or right, is the bar. A beautiful bar that doubles as a 'welcome to the plane' area and looks like it's made of solid stone (it's actually a thin stone coating).
This is the view that will greet everyone who gets on the plane. Time to cry if you're not turning left.
It is the longest in the sky at 2.7m and is framed by light. Before explaining the light mood system one of the designers turned to me and said he'd read a blog post in which I'd been dismissive of lighting mood menus and asked me to bear with him while he demonstrated what a moron I am (my words, not his, he was very polite).
I did bear with him and he successfully convinced me that lighting mood menus are actually a marvellous idea on board (still not keen on them in hotel rooms though). Whether you are dining, snoozing, partying or in full pyjamas and duvet mode there is a lighting mood to suit. And it's extraordinary how different the cabin looks at the flick of a switch.
Finally I sat down. And lay down. And played with the onboard entertainment and tried to break things and find potential issues or c*ck ups. But I drew a blank. To quote a girl sat next to me on the tube this morning the seat is "totes amazeballs."
The chair, like the old one, is essentially two pieces of furniture with very high end leather upholstery on the chair and then when it is sleep time it folds over and a bed emerges. The research suggests people don't want to sleep where they eat or where someone else has slept so fresh bedding goes down and you don't have to worry about the personal hygiene of your predecessor.
It's the longest fully flat bed in the business class arena at 7ft 2inches and in chair mode the width has increased by 1.5inches and it reclines up to 50% more than the current seat, designed with shorter flight snoozes in mind.
Chair becomes the longest business class bed in the sky
All this and somehow there are four seats in each row (there were three before) and all still have isle access. This is thanks to an "asymmetric herring bone" and something else I don't fully (or even partially) understand to do with g forces and safety regulations and magic.
Asymetric herring bone and magic combine
Below are a list of other features the Virgin Atlantic people are rightly proud of.
But before I sign off I must make a conclusion or three.
The first is BRAVO! Marvellous chair.
The second is that the people who designed this chair are a lot cleverer than I am.
And third is a suggestion/warning. If you find yourself sat anywhere near me on a Virgin Atlantic flight do everything in your power to avoid eye contact and refuse point blank to engage in conversation with me or else I will bore you to self harm with chair chat.
Virgin Upper Class Dream Suite facts:
• A new window has been built into the wall of each suite, giving them more light and space but its opaque design offers the same levels of privacy.
• Each suite has a 12.1 inch touchscreen monitor with a touchscreen handset loaded with a brand new entertainment system called JAM. It's been consistently rated excellent by more than 80% of passengers.
• Each suite with a handy new flip down cocktail table and push panel armrest, plus a new fully adjustable reading light and a much more conveniently located headphone jack.
• The new passenger control unit still has lumbar support plus clever firm touch buttons to prevent accidental activation.
• There's more storage than ever, with a new literature pocket and two ottoman storage solutions.
• Laptops can be powered throughout the flight with in-seat power supply compatible with most international plug types.
• All of the A330 aircraft have the AeroMobile system installed so that mobile phones work on board.
• With the new technology hub, passengers can connect their smart phone, USB stick or tablet to JAM, watch, read or listen to their own content, plus charge their device. .
More destinations will be added as the rest of the A330 aircraft join the fleet throughout 2012, and new 787 aircraft from 2014.
To learn more about the new chair go to http://www.vsflyinghub.com