the magic of flight
People pack the long aisle of the plane looking hauntedly for seat numbers. Club class is full of very old Americans, smiling with satisfaction as the losers shuffle past towards sub-steerage.
“I’m Ronald Ramsay, your captain for today. We will be flying north first, then turning left and taking up a position in the middle of the North Sea.”
“I’m not sure I want to take up a position in the middle of the North Sea,” says someone. “Not in an aeroplane.”
The 737 makes a noise like a tumble dryer, then suddenly goes backwards. Soon it has set off at a brisk jog into a tangle of well-kept little runways, alongside which you expect to see flowers in brightly-painted tubs, lock-gates and barge-keepers in blue shirts. Nothing of the kind: parked aircraft; a motorway; some raw earth; a Volkswagon van travelling fast between a chainlink fence and some corrugated sheds.