The tinkering about is finished. The attendant has quietly removed my g&t in anticipation and the engines begin their thrum.
There is the usual roar and I watch the grass on either side first quicken, then flatten into a smear as we gather speed and hurtle down the runway. The nose lifts skyward aiming for another strip of concrete an ocean away on the edge of a great city.
I ease back as we bank westward towards the setting sun before circling and heading into the growing dark. Red Moleskine tucked away I grab pens and pencils from my Filson and briefly leaf through the load of magazines, books and swatches. A silhouette breaks the warm rays of the evening sun as drinks service is resumed and the attendant begins handing out menus. Knots of conversation begin anew as we begin to level out.
I understand that there are those who despise travel. A flight is an inconvenience, the quickest way from A-B and nothing more. Granted that the allure of the old Pan Am Clippers or the Pucci stylings of Braniff are long gone but there is still a joy to be salvaged in the long haul flight. Where else can one find a large block of time away from emails,voice mails, badgering assistants, etc..? I despise the advent of in flight internet access for this very reason.
We are a savvy brotherhood and have undoubtedly logged many a mile on virtually every type of aircraft (Still hoping for my now defunct Air Afrique points). Yet we all approach flying differently. I tend to work well in flight and have had some of my most creative thoughts near the jet stream. I’m tireless with a pencil and paper and seem to land with all sorts of ideas and thoughts that wouldn’t have occurred to me at a desk. Our now signature orange threaded cuff being one that made it from the pad to the table.
Villiers is a sleep man and has been known to be unmoving through the longest of legs in a pharmaslumber. P.G. catches up on every film he has missed and is usually glued to the in flight personalized video. Finn is a reader and has now eschewed the hefty bag of books for first a Kindle, and now an Ipad. He always seems to be the one seated next to the gorgeous brunette that we all secretly hope/wish would be our seatmate. Instead we are left with the chatty old age pensioner or ham hock armed portfolio manager. Such is life.
I awake early and a blood red sun seeks a portion of upturned shade. In search of a water to swish away the taste of a night of pressurized air I pass the crumpled and stirring forms of other passengers.
Quite a while before landing and the plane hangs dead steady in the middle of the world. Only the patches of bright sunlight swinging slowly on cabin walls reference motion. We are seemingly in situ as the day begins below us. I go back to reading Imperial Bedrooms and look up only when we are reaching a coastline. The straight white feather of a boats wake across an inlet, the glint of chromium from a toy car caught in the sun- signs of a life outside the fuselage.
The reverie is over as I smell the muted bitterness of coffee brewing in the galley. Later still comes the shrill hydraulic whine of airbrakes and landing gear, the tearing bump of tyres on the runway and the ugly roar as the screws are reversed. A rumbling tired progress then ensues as we move towards the gate.
With a bagful of new ideas I step out of the plane and into somewhere else.