When I was young, so less than half a century ago, we went abroad once. I was 14. Actually, that’s not entirely true. When I was about 5, my parents took me and my sister to Guernsey. I remember it because we had a thing called ‘High Tea’ about 5 p.m. This was for kids only and was something like beans on toast. I guess we didn’t have ‘Dinner’ later but I don’t really remember.
Anyway, I digress. Our holiday, when I was 14, involved a caravan trip. My parents reckoned (and they were right) that this would be the last holiday that we would go on as a ‘family’.
The six of us, with the caravan trailing behind us, overloaded with the awning in which the kids would sleep, made our way to Portsmouth (or maybe Weymouth) on the south coast and then, by ferry to France. We then motored through France to the south west, somewhere near Bordeaux.
It was before package holidays took off.
Before that, when I was about 10 or 12, I remember my father going to the USA on a business trip. I remember it because he brought back a gonk for each of us kids
and a pair of bright purple loons for me!
Which I loved, by the way. And, anyway, no one in the backwater of Hereford had them, fashion not quite having reached Hereford by then (has it now?).
Certainly, when we went to Guernsey, we flew. This must have been very expensive as this was the days before package holidays and easy air travel. It was all more ‘exclusive’ then. a little bit special.
How different is it now? Now, we think nothing of hopping on a plane to go to the other side of the world. In fact, we consider air travel first when we think of going abroad – just like we shall be going to the UK at the end of July. It never even crossed my mind to go by rail or coach or any other means. It was just a matter of searching for the cheapest flight.
Which, of course, leads us to now. Now, with a volcano erupting and throwing ash everywhere. How very inconsiderate it is?
I feel sorry for the people ‘stranded’ far away from home. I know some that are. It is difficult. However, it is also an adventure! The adventure being to find another way home or to find something to do or somewhere to sleep or eke out savings or credit cards. It could be fun, if you put your mind to it.
I also feel sorry for those whose businesses rely on people being able to fly in and out of any country they wish – hotels, restaurants, the general hospitality industry. Then are those flower sellers in Nigeria (isn’t that close to some countries where people are currently close to starvation?) having to throw away all the flowers because they can’t fly them to Europe. Then, of course, there are the providers of exotic, perishable goods – with warnings that the shops will soon experience shortages (I’m sure it won’t make much of a dent in Tesco’s record profits for next year). Yes, all these people whose lives and businesses are affected – it’s really dreadful for them.
But, those of you who do read my blog often enough will know there’s always a ‘but’, lets’ take a little step back from this.
No one actually MADE these people go abroad for their holiday. If you have a business, think how it was done back in the 60s – one rarely flew abroad for business then, did one? So, if you ARE stranded, before getting angry that no one has yet come to save you, think, perhaps about why you are there and get on with getting back. There are ways. They still have ships plying between New York and the UK, for example! And, apparently, you can book from (anywhere) on board some freighter ships!
If you’re stuck in the EU or the USA, remember these are civilised countries and there will be help available, if you look hard enough. If you’re stuck in some shit-hole, please try to remember that you CHOSE to go there. If it’s not ‘civilised’ – well, what was the point in going there if all you were going to do was stay in a four-star hotel and sip drinks on the terrace?
And then there is the coincidental loss of business. I do feel sorry for the Nigerian ‘farmers’ forced to throw away all those exotic flowers they grow so that (said in voice using received pronunciation – i.e. like what the Queen speaks) ‘one can have a rather glorious flower arrangement for one’s table’ – but I just can’t quite get my head round the fact that, on the same continent, there are people dying for want of food!
No, there’s something wrong somewhere, for certain.
To be honest, our little experience was all rather fun and interesting – but, then, it wasn’t me with the problem – I was just helping. And, as I write this, I see that flights are, again, coming in to Malpensa and Linate and, in fact, flying all over Europe!
But the things I have written above was brought about because people are starting to get angry, it would seem. Angry? Are you joking? 40 or 50 years ago only the rich would be in this position. Now everyone is at it but still they expect it to be ‘handled’ by the government. They expect that they shouldn’t be ‘ripped off’. The world is a crazy, crazy place.
But I kept thinking about the air safety drill, given on board aircraft before you take off. You know?
In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, masks like this one will come down from the panel above your head.
In the event of us landing on water, you will find the lifebelt under your seat.
In the event that a volcano erupts, please panic!
>p.s. I just want to add that there are some people for whom I feel genuinely sorry. Not everyone has a credit card to enable them to get home or family or friends who will help. It’s just the people that get so angry about it all and I keep on thinking – but no one actually MADE you go there in the first place!by