By Parson Thru
I used to hate this.
Looking out the window at a gently rocking wing flashing in the morning sun. The fear has gone. What’s to be scared of? I’m in Row 27, Seat F, window seat, just a few feet behind the trailing-edge. If I touch the inner surface of the fuselage, I can feel a slight vibration that may be the engine.
Sunday morning. Most people are still in bed. We crossed the British coast ten or twenty minutes ago, over Dawlish. My son and grandchildren are on holiday down there somewhere. The sky below was mainly clear. Unseasonable April weather. From 37,000 ft, England fits the stories of King Arthur and chocolate-box lids.
Earlier, the sight of grey, impenetrable cloud streaming over the Welsh mountains had brought a glow of nostalgia, thinking of the many times I’ve watched it from across the Severn. From above, it looked like a long loin of cod stretching from the Irish Sea to Bristol. It was probably raining in Cardiff, soon to drizzle in Brizzle.
We drifted over land again – Brittany, I think – and crossed another coast. A red and white jet came hurrying in the opposite direction, punching a hole through the serenity. Are we really going that fast? Two dirty trails hung in the sky in its wake. They look so clean from the ground.
A bank of cloud spread below like an ice shelf, its shapely edge of capes and sounds giving way to flat aqua-blue. My dad’s third car. Surprising what memories are summoned.
The wing, a miracle of engineering persistence, looks less blade-like from here. Its components slightly ragged and stained. Control surfaces seem to move involuntarily in the air-flow, occasionally exposing grubby private parts best left concealed.
I feel safe and unperturbed here in the stratosphere. Perhaps it’s a delusion, but I’ll live with that for the next hour.
I notice an orange and white jet behind and to our right, slowly overhauling us. It must have been there a while, peeling away on an even tangent. I wonder where they’re going? Oviedo? Santiago? Porto maybe? I realise that I love strangers.