Traveller's tales

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Diary of a genetically unmodified traveller: Flying

By ‘travelling’, I mean the act of moving yourself and your belongings – a couple of plastic suitcases and a holdall - from A to B, as opposed to sitting around in departure lounges waiting for connecting flights.

I have long been aware of the fact – since I grew to be a six-footer – that shin bones could have been better designed to take into account our seemingly genetic need to travel.

Unfortunately, nothing in the double helix covers this most human of traits – to be uncomfortable in seats that are marginally just too close together for comfort.

Plane makers never consider people with my leg length when life’s seating plan is being worked out.

The incentive to cram as many seats as possible into the cabin of a 747/37/27 or anything bigger than a Cessner is the greater number of passengers that can be made uncomfortable for the duration of the flight to Bodrum, and the increase in revenues from being able to sell more tickets per gallon of aviation fuel.

As far as genetics is concerned, all that has happened is that either technology – the nuts and bolts and microprocessor stuff – has long outstripped the specifications of the DNA of travellers or else it hasn’t caught up – I favour the latter.

All this leads me to the kind of adage my grandmother was fond of; ‘If God had meant us to smoke’, she used to say as I was lighting up, ‘we would have had chimneys fitted.’

My variation is, ‘If God had meant us to travel by plane or bus, we would have been kitted out with a set of second (reverse) knees, or we would have been born pygmies or dwarfs.’ (No offence to either, by the way)

The fact – the sad fact – that we are neither double kneed nor short (most of us) means, doesn’t it, that it would be better for us if we stayed home and satisfied our wander lust by watching holiday programmes on TV rather than trying it out for ourselves and suffering in the process.

I will certainly bear that in mind prior to my next holiday – but for now, alas, it’s too late; I am half way through this year’s ordeal of modern flight – see you in Bodrum.

Robert L Fielding

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