Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Die with boots on, or off?


The bus to Bristol Airport has just gone past. A few years ago I would have been very envious, but now I just think, 'Poor sods'.

A few years ago, there was no dedicated bus to Bristol Airport. You drove, got a (good) friend to drive you or you took a taxi at £40. It took me about 30 years to decide on the best route to Bristol Airport from Bath, but eventually I became convinced that it is via Stanton Drew. You may not save many miles this way, but you get a last glimpse of ancient British culture before you leave the country - the stone circle. 'Stanton Drew' = 'Stone town of the Druids.'

A few years before that, we drove to one of those cheap parking fields which abused your car while you were away, then picked you up in a rusty Transit on the way back.

A few years before that, we were held ransom by Airport Parking Services. A friend of mine refused to pay the extortionate fee for raising the barrier on his return, so he just took a run-up with his entire family in the back and smashed right through it. These days he would be shot by armed police.

I was in my mid-twenties before I ever flew in an aeroplane. It was when I went to Egypt, stopping off one night in Athens. I got to the Acropolis and lay on a large, flat stone and slumbered in the Winter sunshine. Various ancient Greek philosophers walked past me as I lay there, but being asleep I couldn't talk to them. I could see them, but I couldn't speak.

The next evening we were flying over the pyramids of Giza as the sun began to set, and the pilot made a little circuit, tilting the plane one way then the other so that both sides of the plane got a view.

It was my first sight of the thing which I had been wanting to see since childhood, and the sole reason for the trip.

The air was thick with the dust of the Sahara and freshly-lit kebab fires when we got off the plane in the twilight. It was a very heady and slightly scary perfume.

All those fulfilled desires rolled into one trip. I don't think you could have called it a holiday - it was far too hard work for that, but I suppose most city holidays are, even if you are not attacked - twice - by Muslim fundamentalists as I was.

Having said that, they attack people on beaches these days.

17 comments:

  1. My first flight was to Paris in 1952 - one way on an Elizabethan and back on a Viscount - Heathrow, if I remember, was just a series of Nissen huts.

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    1. The Vickers Viscount! I remember those. My father helped to make them in Weybridge.

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  2. My first flight was when I was about 16 to Majorca.
    ... and, I can remember on some early holidays with our children, we parked in those fields .... I think it was called Pink Elephant parking !!! Now we get valet parking .... it's not overly expensive and very convienient. Are you picking up your German friends soon ? XXXX

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    1. The Germans arrived last night. Today we go somewhere, but I don't know where!

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    2. Have fun wherever you go !! XXXX

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  3. Good morning from New York to you, Tom. My blogging visits just about came to a complete halt in July. However, I have begun to try to reconnect with folks whose posts I enjoy very much.
    Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of catching up on Weaver's posts; today I have had the great pleasure of catching up on your posts.
    I read them in chronological order and at first made a few notes, thinking that I might write you a proper comment. Alas, I realize that I would fail to do so.
    I am sorry about the vandalization of your workplace, I agree with you about Dow Chem, I often use knitting yarn from a company called Cascade, I wish that in the midst of one of the current policy crises over here someone would give the American public a full explanation of what insurance and risk are all about.

    I promise to try to stay more current. Best wishes.

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    1. You saved all the posts for one go!

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  4. My first flight was to Romania in 1972 but there were no direct flights so we had to land in Brussels. Then we had an internal flight in Romania where local people had animals on the plane returning from market day. Nobody bothered much about sitting down even during landing and I thought I was going to die. When we got back to Heathrow three weeks later I burst into tears when we got back safely. My mother had phoned me the night before we went to try to stop me going because Romania was a communist country and she thought she would never see me again.

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    1. We once took a flight to Turkey via Azerbaijan Airways. I was expecting an Aeroflot bucket, but it was the best flight we ever had.

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  5. My first flight was to Chicago, on business. How mundane.
    You did not mention the location of your boots as you dozed on large flat stone. It certainly sounds like and "if I die right this minute, my life is complete."

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    1. They were on the end of my feet. No blankets.

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  6. I always wanted to go to Cairo and Istanbul. Sadly now, I am quite sure I won't get there. I didn't know fundamentalists were attacking people back then. Will just have to read about those places now.

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    1. Back then they were usually old men, except one whose village I stupidly wandered into was about 6'7" and about 35 years old. He was the scariest.

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  7. Have you heard of 'Wingly'? Private plane owners sell empty seats to wherever they're going, for much the same price as a commercial flight. No Hoi Polloi, but you'd need to go to wherever they're going, on that day. Otherwise a nice idea; it could make flying more fun.

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    1. Yes, I recently heard of them. My friend used to take me up in a light plane and we split the hire costs. They only charge for when the plane is in the air, so it is possible to go to France, spend the night and fly back next day for not too much money.

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  8. One of my first ever flights was on a Freddie Laker to the USA....there was a bar on the upper deck of the plane as I recall. Your line 'it was a very heady and slightly scary perfume' really came alive with the sights and sounds for me..and yes I'm sure that any car parked in a cheap car park is driven all over the place while the owner is away!

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