I don’t know about you, but I’m quite fond of countries where the sun only leaves the sky at night.
A desire for a warm climate and a tax-free salary has frequently taken me far from my native land, where sometimes even the relentless rain can be quite taxing.
But looking back with the rose-tinted sunglasses of 20/20 hindsight, I am not altogether regretful that I spent my middle years as a wanderlusting Scot. Covid-19 is not a bus that makes me want to board it for the airport, even in search of sunnier climes. These days, my main regret is future flights probably never to be taken. My passport lapsed shortly after my optimism.
“You should remove half the seats from your planes,” I feel like telling the enthusiastic airline owners who try to persuade us that future flying will be corona-proof with masks and sanitizers and disinfecting sprays. (I’ve travelled on some airlines where the food itself could have benefited from such hygienic attention.) Fewer seats might mean more legroom, but somewhere along the line (or airline) it would also mean less profit for the — no, wait, they would simply raise their prices, wouldn’t they?
So ticket costs will doubtless come full circle → affordable only by the affluent → insanely reduced on charter flights to golf resorts → then skyrocketing, post-Covid. What goes down must rise up again, in defiance of Mr Newton’s first law of gravity, I’m afraid. I thought science was supposed to be an exact, um, science. But then, I’m not a big fan of gravity, give me levity any day.
Gone are the days when a Boeing Stratocruiser (a favourite of James Bond) took over 16 hours to fly from London to New York, with a refuelling stop in Ireland. Mr Secret Service. The portly 65-thousand-kilogram Stratocruiser certainly appeared to defy gravity too, and so poor Isaac Newton was confounded again, having made a big deal about an apple falling on his head. Next someone will be saying that Archimedes never took a bath in his life.
One of the main reasons for going on holiday is change, a welcome break in the tedium of our humdrum existence (well that’s why I go on holiday anyway.) But from now on, when we pluck up the courage to climb aboard a half-empty plane and sit in a socially-distanced seat with extra legroom, what we find on arrival won’t be all that different from what we left behind, except for the sunshine perhaps. And a scattering of bikinis on the beaches.
It seems we can’t stop flying, no matter what. The late lamented Clive James recognized this when he said he had flipped the coin of flight-safety thousands of times and it had always come up heads. “There’s an awful lot of tails waiting up there,” he remarked lugubriously — but he continued to get on planes. As did Buddy Holly, until the music died.
Will we eventually relegate thoughts of coronavirus to the back of our minds, as we mainly do with flu? And reinstate our major obsessions — like fish pie, chocolate ice cream and Moroccan lamb stew? (You’ll have your own list, I’m sure.) My list used to include sunshine, but now I’m not so sure. It might encourage viruses. I don’t want to find myself on the C-19 en route to the hospital at this late stage.