Saturday, April 14, 2018


We're in Hong Kong.

It was a remarkably easy flight, a scheduled nine and a half hours. Before we even took off, the captain said the expected flight time was eight and a half. I'd brought three books, and had a few movies I was keen to catch up on. But still.

By the time I'd found The Death of Stalin, and then we'd synched our viewing (we spend forever stopping and starting till we are on the same frame), we were well into lunch and then the next thing I knew I was waking up to the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. It'd be better on a big screen anyway, the movie I mean.

The head sets (Cathay) were terrific, and the noise reduction technology brilliant. I drifted away into the music as the 777, a noisy beast if you're near the wings with one huge engine each side, each alone able to get the thing home on its own regardless, droned on in some remote other world.

Shirley Jackson's "We Always Lived In The Castle" came with a genius recommendation from George Monbiot. I've got a thing for Mr Monbiot, but no-one knows that, except the internet now. I like his style. He just had prostate cancer surgery, which is a pretty big challenge to body and mind, and his attitude is as admirable as it gets.

Already, it's a book I don't want to put down but I don't want to stop. So there's that delicious conundrum. Early on, the protagonist, who loathes the villagers with a vengeance, wonders why such ugly and unwanted creatures were even created. It's a great question.

And in between pages, and more nodding off, there was more Berlioz, and before you knew it the late afternoon sun was glinting orange through the starboard windows, the shades now all up ready for landing, and everyone upright and fastened. I wondered if anyone was using safe words; if people before a disaster had any premonitions. The plane skipped down through the low clouds. The pilot came on air again. He had a softened Kiwi accent, and was rather friendly. I wondered what he looked like. Did he use safe words?

The craggy green peaks and wandering coast line came closer. The air looked heavy and humid. And the landing was perfect.

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