Air travel: both miracle and nightmare

My first ever post from the Southern Hemisphere – exciting stuff! A pink-tinged dawn greeted our arrival at Sydney airport at 5am yesterday after a plane journey that seemed to last for several lifetimes. I’ve never been a great lover of air travel. So the thought of 7 hours on a plane to Dubai, almost immediately followed by 13 hours on the same plane to Australia filled me with a special kind of 21st century dread: the knowledge that the number of inflight movies I’d actually want to watch would be far outweighed by the number of hours still left until I arrived at our destination.

And I was right. Most of the options were pretty standard action movies, most of which probably contain images of explosions, gunfire and general violence that I – personally speaking – find less than conducive to a restful flight. So I watched The Internship with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn instead. Out of choice. This is what air travel does to you; it changes your usual parameters of what constitutes disposable poppycock. And it does that because anything is preferable to the boredom of being locked in a long tube of stale air with the rest of humanity. Satré was clearly wrong: Hell isn’t just other people, it’s being confined on a plane with other people. At least that’s what I’d imagine anyone sat near my baby daughter was thinking. She was something of an angel on the flight, but still managed to do her fair share of crying and grizzling, as any 7-month-old on a plane would do. To anyone within five rows of us, I apologise wholeheartedly and say this – at least you didn’t have to try and change her full-to-bursting nappies in the cubicle of doom that is a plane toilet. Medals should be handed out, to my mind, for anyone brave enough to weather nappy changes during air turbulence. The shit did, almost literally, hit the fan.

But, gripes aside, I must be thankful for air travel. Without it I wouldn’t be sat here now listening to the curious and unfamiliar sounds of the Australian dawn chorus. And, whichever way you look at it, it’s pretty miraculous that I can get on a plane in London and 24 hours later be on the other side of the planet. What would Cook have made of that, eh?

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