Xabi Alonso tried to read a newspaper on Real Madrid's flight back from Valencia on Sunday.
These were important times for Spain, the early hours of a day in which the crisis-hit country would hold a general election. Alonso isn't short of a few bob, but he'll know people out of work in all social classes and possesses the intelligence to have a social conscience.
The Spain midfielder, 29, sat next to his best mate Alvaro Arbeloa, the defender wearing those oversized headphones favoured by footballers, and a watch the size of Big Ben.
Both wore identikit grey Real Madrid v-neck jumpers, more Armani than garish footballer-wear. Alonso struggled to read, though, and Arbeloa didn't listen to music. There was too much of a buzz around the cabin for concentration as Madrid had just beaten Valencia 3-2 away.
The Catalan and Valencian media were indignant that Valencia had been denied a late penalty, but a red-shirted Madrid were the superior side, just as they have been in almost every game this season.
Jose Mourinho's team have now registered 11 consecutive victories in all competitions in which they've scored 41 and conceded just six goals. Only the Madrid team of 1960-61 have won more than 11 consecutive games.
The leading attacking lights of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema are the ones who usually dominate the headlines, but no outfield player has started as many games than Xabi Alonso in Madrid's successful season to date. Alonso seldom scores or even assists Madrid's many goals, but more than any player he's vital to Mourinho's plans to topple Barca and win the league.
Alonso is a world-class defensive playmaker in his prime. It's baffling why Rafa Benitez wanted to sell him to make way for Gareth Barry in 2008 when most long-time Liverpool fans raved over his passing ability and put him in their greatest all time XIs alongside Hansen, Souness, Barnes, Dalglish and Rush.
Alonso never fully reconciled his differences with Benitez and a year later moved to Madrid in a £30 million deal - despite Liverpool wanting to keep him after he'd shown how effective his was linking up with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
Liverpool were crestfallen by his August departure and skipper Gerrard wasn't the only one devastated on Merseyside.
It was yet another move for Alonso who - thanks to father Periko, a midfielder who played for Real Sociedad and Barcelona among others - lived the nomadic existence of a footballer from childhood. Born in the Basque Country near San Sebastian, he spent formative years in Catalonia following his dad's career, before moving back to San Sebastian.
In this glorious Basque city with two shell-like beaches fronting the Atlantic, Alonso used to play football on the beach with his brother Mikel and their neighbour Mikel Arteta. Players like Daniel Alves who've spent enough time playing on sand always credit the surface with aiding their game.
Arteta and Alonso Jnr would end up being neighbours again in Liverpool's Albert Dock a decade later and, while they didn't continue beach football among Anthony Gormley's statues on Crosby beach, these Catalan-influenced Basques were both unqualified successes.
Alonso arrived at Liverpool in 2003 for £10.7 million after impressing in the Real Sociedad side which almost won the league in Spain in 2003. Sociedad goalkeeper Sander Westerveld described him as the finest emerging talent in Spain - some praise for a player not at one of the bigger clubs.
Alonso claimed that his five years in England improved his game, his speed of thought and made him more prepared for the physical side of football. He believes he returned to Spain a better player, with the medals to back up his improved status, from a European Cup won dramatically in Istanbul to the European Championships and World Cup with Spain.
As he approaches 100 caps, Alonso remains integral to Spain and only Xavi Hernandez made more passes than Alonso from all the 51 teams in the qualifiers for Euro 2012. Four Spain players topped the pass-completion charts before Rafael van der Vaart, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Andrea Pirlo and Wesley Sneijder could get a look in.
While Xavi and Iniesta are the short pass masters, no player can match Alonso's range of passing. He doesn't possess the burst of pace of the Barca duo, but he's pulling the strings in a Madrid team at the centre of a midfield three alongside Sami Khedira and Lassana Diarra, either in a 4-3-3 as in Valencia, or more usually as one of two players in front of the defence in a 4-2-3-1.
Madrid look more likely to challenge Barcelona than at any time in Pep Guardiola's time at Camp Nou, though similar things were said last year and Barca went on to destroy Madrid 5-0 at Camp Nou.
Alonso is on a mission. He missed out on a La Liga title when Real Sociedad finished second. Lost out again as Liverpool finished second in the Premier League in 2009 - also the position Madrid have finished in each of the last three years.
A league title is the only trophy he's missing. The first clasico is in two weeks at the Bernabeu and is likely to give him a chance to put Madrid six points clear of Barca.
Can they do it, or will Alonso always be a bridesmaid in the league?