- Retrieve red flag from loft and dust off cobwebs.
- Hide Tony Blair memorabilia in loft.
- Grow scrubby beard.
- Discard ties.
- Cultivate tetchy, baby boomer, annoyed-at-everything attitude.
- Throw D’Ream CDs into eco-friendly landfill enviro-park facility.
- Block Peter Mandelson emails.
- Buy Keir Hardie deerstalker.
- Join militant union.
- Enjoy it while it lasts comrades.
The latest tragedy to affect an airshow is at the head of a long line of such disasters dating back over a century. The screaming headlines, disturbing footage – replayed endlessly for the delectation of armchair experts and disaster junkies – do nothing to lessen the devastating consequences of such a happening. Reports of disbelief, shock and consequent grief, sadly are all too familiar.
The realities of ‘air shows’ are these:
1. Flying metal bombs – many 0f which have seen better days or were never designed for the antics they are expected to perform at these events – are propelled at great speed by human pilots in far too close proximity to hundreds or thousands of spectators.
2. Events may be held in urban areas close to roads and housing.
3. No foolproof guarantee of aircraft or pilot fitness appears, so far, to have been devised.
Given 1, 2 and 3 why is anyone surprised when it all goes terribly wrong and people die? Why would anyone in their right mind take themselves or their families to stand underneath one of these things? Why aren’t the road users and residents of areas surrounding the events warned of the greatly increased risk of death or injury when an air show is in operation?
At one time, it was considered ‘normal’ for participants and attendees at Grands Prix motor races to risk death for their ’sport’. Whilst some risks now remain; improvements to safety have massively reduced them and fatalities are now thankfully rare. Does it take much logic to apply the same thinking to air shows? As far as I can tell, the risks are still far too great. I for one will not be going anywhere near one ever.
*Blows dust off of blog*
I was one of the early ones. Those who got wind of something new and different and signed up even before they restricted sign-ups to ‘by invitation only’. My ‘real name’ domain name had long gone. Snapped up by some cybersquatting bar steward who’s sat on it for more than 10 years without doing anything with it aside from trying to sell it to me for forty thousand dollars. You have to be fast in cyberspace, the prime spots go cyberfast. My gmail address is pretty special; it could only be me. All the others have to add a number to their names or mix up the characters when they sign up. Only I get to be me.
This was all well and good for the first few years. Slowly but surely, gmail has signed up thousands more of my namesakes, each of whom has had to choose a little addendum to make their gmail address unique. At first the mistakes seemed quite interesting; “Hi XXXX – remember me? We met at *bar in remote foreign city I have never visited* – fancy meeting up?” Now, email abounds with pork luncheon meat (meet?) like this, but this is not spam – this is the real deal. A real person in *remote foreign city I have never visited* is sincerely and genuinely sending an email to that fanciable chap with the same name as me hoping for a hook up. The only problem is that they are using the wrong gmail address. They forgot to add the little bit on the end that would get their message to Mr Gorgeous and not Mr Absolutely Gorgeous But Fed Up of Getting Duff Gmails From Strangers; AKA: me. Next came the subscription to The List From Which There Is No Escape. Somebody with my name is a member of the residents association of a small community of luxury properties in a far flung corner of The Empire. For five years I have been receiving monthly updates on the petty, backstabbing and politically manipulative goings-on in this “idyllic place”, proving that the rich and not-famous are just as vile and scheming as the rest of us. It was actually quite interesting being on the The List From Which There Is No Escape, albeit in a dull sort of way. They had me hooked after the dog fouling episode outside Mr Huge-Wonga’s mansion and the ensuing twelve months of passive aggressive recriminations in the form of Association Meeting Minutes that attempted to steer a line between a factual record of discussions and a badly disguised condemnation of Mrs Enormous-Pile’s habit of leaving her two Pekingese off the leash (against community regulations) when out and about in the early morning paradisical sunshine. In fairness, I tried clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link in their messages but whoever had set up The List From Which There Is No Escape had failed to set up the escape route. So I kept getting the updates until recently. I’ll never know now what became of the plan to erect passive aggressive signs next to the community playground and whether they might have succeeded in getting the Enormously-Fertile’s to control their prolific offspring’s vocalisations echoing around the community at “all hours” tut tut.
Sadly, the soap opera component of gmail misaddressing has been far outweighed by the moron component. These are the individuals for whom email appears to be some sort of magic, the rules of which they don’t fully grasp. There was the toastmaster who kept sending me snotty demands that I complete my training or he would strike me from the register of toastmasters. My protestations of non toastmasterdom where sneered at as ‘evasion tactics’ leading me to the conclusion that to be a toastmaster requires submission to a cult of discipline similar to that of the Ninja. The estate agent who sent me a demand for back rent and refused to believe that I was not the XXXX who had done a bunk with the fixtures and fittings, jeopardising my deposit. My deposits in his inbox were dismissed with a threatening sneer and an aggressive response to my suggestion that his failure to check his information reflected badly on his business. This, after the third erroneous email from him. I ended up filtering out his techno-crap so it goes straight to trash where it and he belongs. One of my namesakes appears to have a child at an exclusive Irish school. Try as I might, I have been unable to stop them from sending me parents’ newsletters. Apparently they do not have the technical expertise in-house to remove my details from The System. Today a fourth of July e-card arrived from Mom & Dad. My polite response that I was not their son met with incredulity and a brief exchange of further messages in which they probe me to see if I might be lying about my parentage. I feel that there might be a book in this somewhere. I know Dave Gorman did his Thing but this is my Thing. I’m the only real one you see. I got there first. Only I could write this particular book.
In a world where the word ‘hero’ has become devalued we need look no further than a man who accomplished so much and remained so modest.
Inspiration to millions and to me.
“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” Statement from the family of Neil Armstrong