“It’s one of those things you wait a long time to do and then you don’t want to do it.” Flying that is… or so said my husband as we sat on the tarmac at Barcelona after a two hour wait and a very long taxi to the runway. Take off came and went, as did the landing and the worst that happened was that one of our bags went missing (now retrieved and on its way back to us courtesy of Easyjet) – still I don’t seem to be able to leave Barcelona without leaving something there – last time it was my purse. I heard somewhere (definitely unverified but sounds good) that Bob Hope was very afraid of flying, but because he had been such a great entertainer (particularly of the troops) he had flown more than a million hours by the end of his long life – everyone of those hours an exercise in fear. My first flight was over forty years ago, then, in the mid 60s I flew in what I think was a VC10 from Lusaka to Victoria Falls. The worst that happened then was that I spent some time doubled up behind a tree due to stomach ache – however, I
have not forgotten The Smoke That Thunders –nor the sight of my father leaning out in the mist.
All I got up to as a result of my most recent flight was to stand in the queue at the Barcelona Duty Free, determined to buy some make-up in an increasingly useless effort to stay young. In front of me in the queue was a Russian, a little younger maybe, buying what else but Davidoff? I don’t know about anybody else my age but I still can’t get used to the delights of travelling with Russians. I was born at the dawn of the Cold War and if I had been standing in a queue next a Russian then in an airport, chances are it would have been an athlete or an artist, keen to “defect”. I seemed then, and for a long time beyond, that nothing would ever change, but now the plane to Moscow from Barca was packed with young Russians clutching sombreros and a new taste for Sangria, as free to come and go as the rest of us are, money and work allowing. There was a time when it seemed that Apartheid in South Africa would never end, but, it seems, even “still President Bush” as Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) says is about to change. Not only that as we stood in 42 degree heat in Figueres waiting in an hour long queue for the Salvador Dali Museum (an experience that nearly got the better of the Russian lady in front of us who liked the heat less than the “General Winter”) as we stood there slowly crisping, no doubt as a result of those very flights I (and others) having taken over the years it seems that possible those very flights are about to suffer from the winds of change.