About ten years ago, I would say I like flying, and the worst possible reaction I could plausibly expect would be someone saying Really? Are you stupid? Acres of queuing, surrounded by idiots, followed by several hours cramped in a torture chair breathing recycled air being served stale TV dinners and watching movies you wouldnt usually watch even if the alternative was being set on fire?. And I would say Yes, and they would say Wow! You ARE stupid!, which is fair enough and a matter of opinion and all that.
Now, in certain companies of certain sorts, the admission that I like flying can raise anything from a disdainful glance and an Oh, Really? to a pointed DO you?, in a tone that would generally follow a confession of liking to stick raw bacon in your underwear or sexing other peoples spouses just for kicks.
Occasionally, of course, I can raise a full lecture from the words I like flying, which I like to think of as the Royal Flush of conversation. A ten minute recourse on why I shouldnt like a thing that I like by someone who is trying to persuade me with arguments I already know all about.
Yes. Its ecologically fucking terrible. I know. I am aware of the carbon emission problems. Im sorry. I still like flying.
There are several things about flying that invariably cloud my mind from the unconscionable ecological evil that I am perpetrating by doing it.
a) By being on a plane, I get to go far far away and see new things and have new experiences and spend at least a small proportion of my time learning and revelling in newness, and generally being amazed.
b) Take off. Pulling away from solid ground and rising into the air. I know theres a solid bunch of physics and that behind it, but I still prefer to think its magic.
c) While I also enjoy holidaying in this country, I very much enjoy the womder and the confusion of being in a different country. So there. Im not snubbing my own country, its lovely. But there is time for both, and there are a lot of places I have yet to be.
d) Being fed stale TV dinners and watching terrible movies and drinking at lunchtime. It all feels slightly naughty, like its timezone bubble, a place that exists completely outside normal life, and you can do all the things you wouldnt usually do (of course you wouldnt) because you are too sensible and have Too Many Things To Do.
e) Planes take you far away. They just do. I can never shake the suspicion that many of the strict stop-flyingers that doomfully intone in panel shows and angrily opine on comment pages have already seen wonderful places and done wonderful things and theyre just being meanies by denying me the chance of doing it too.
f) Being above clouds, in a place where there is always sunshine, is one of the most powerful mood-enhancers I know. Just thinking about it makes my heart swell.
g) They take people who get sad without sun to places where there is sun.
So there we have it. I dont drive a big horrible SUV. Or in fact drive. At all. I dont use nasty home appliances that waste energy more than needs be, I recycle my little heart out, I basically live in the dark, wearing ethical hessian, and eating free range onions laid by a local farmer. But all the same, all these things, I know, come to nothing, because I am quite unrepentant about the one big bad thing.
I like flying.
So the fact that Ive taken a vow not to do it if it can possibly be helped for the next foreseeable future – Im trying for six months initially – has NOTHING to do with any guilty feelings or sense of environmental responsibility.
Its because Ive suddenly developed a completely irrational fear based on the idea that 1) too many good things are happening to me at the moment. Seriously, and
2) Ive never been on a plane that has crashed, even though Ive been on rather a lot of planes of late, which by the law of averages is pushing it anyway.
And those two facts together, together with one horrendous take off and one borderline hideous landing, have convinced me that Im due a plane crash.
Yes, that is how my brain works.
So there you are. Theres no real point to this, really. I just thought that at some point someone might notice that I wasnt flying very much, and I didnt want you to think Id had an attack of the ethicals and come over all environmentalistic and lost all my big nasty selfish travel-itches.
Im just a big scaredy cat.
Well, for a bit.
When some other things go wrong again – enough to offset my present karma-footprint, or to repay my karma-debt, whatever the Gore-lingo is this week – then Ill be straight back on a plane again.
Because I like flying. So there.