Our Lives in their Hands

We are all in others’ hands. From before we are born, to being brought up, to getting an education, to driving our cars or stepping on to a bus or train, to earning money, to visiting the GP; in every single area of our lives we depend on others for our safety and wellbeing.

I watched a news report from Syria, in which a sick baby, afflicted with a hole in his heart had to be rescued from his incubator when the hospital treating him was bombed. The young paramedic carried the baby, drip and all. in his arms and held him during the bumpy ambulance ride. The baby gazed calmly up into the medic’s eyes and reached towards his face. After this journey the baby needed to transfer to another ambulance and a swap of personnel. This young child remained calm and trusting as he was passed from one pair of arms to another.

The extent of our dependence on others is never so stark as when we fly, stepping into a vehicle and surrendering ourselves to the mercy of the pilots and crew.

Trust in each other has to be the most important factor in conducting our lives. On an international scale, when we as nations don’t trust other countries, this is where conflicts are likely to arise. To behave in sneaky, underhand behaviour leads to double-dealing and confrontations. How much better to be open, to allow free movement and to share knowledge.

You could live on an island, become self-sufficient, never communicate. What kind of life would that be? Those currently in quarantine from the Coronavirus and others incarcerated on a cruise ship and isolated from the rest of us are finding life dull and difficult-even for two weeks; and this is with the benefits of internet communication. The admirable ‘Abels’, trapped in their cruise ship cabin are passing the time by becoming media stars. Elsewhere there is quarantine blogging from bored internees.

We are off to Thailand. We’ve deliberated long and hard, consulted others, read up [probably too much], prepared, acquired masks and gels. We’ll comply with any checks and instructions, steer clear of crowds, wash our hands. We’ll go to our destination and relax. We’ll be depending on others-and so will everybody else…

Flights of Fancy [not]

To fly anywhere these days requires surrendering yourself to a surreal experience in which you are engulfed in a dystopian world and required to submit to various practices which never occur in your normal, day-to-day life.

First you must access the airport. If you drive there you must take your vehicle to one of countless, vast car parks marked with ‘bays’. Your vehicle is spookily ‘recognised’ and allowed in. You wait in a remote shelter for a shuttle bus, which exists solely for the purpose of car park to airport, airport to car park.

If you arrive by public transport you may stay in an airport hotel. They are strange, anonymous tower blocks accommodating all nationalities, everyone staying for just one night, the hospitality focused on food, drink and sleep-with TV and WIFI thrown in and, of course a shuttle bus to the terminal. In your room, which has a view over the access road, the car park or a petrol station you may be prey to gabbling in foreign tongues as they impregnate the thin walls separating you from next door. There are rumblings as suitcases are trundled along the carpeted corridors and feverish key card insertions. Your dreams are punctuated by strange roars and muffled voices.

Next morning you rise up, shower in your en-suite [serviceable], down a quick cup of tea and trundle your own case to the lift, where you descend to the lobby. Others pulling cases may join you. It is early. Almost everyone is silent, save for the bus driver, who greets with an almost indecent jollity. There is a diverse assortment of luggage, from gargantuan, shiny designer to old, battered, market-for-peanuts [ours]. The bus rattles around the hotels collecting travellers then on to the terminal to spew you all out.

You claw your case from the rack and traipse with it and everyone else, following the yellow arrows to ‘departures’. You locate your ‘check-in’ from the screen [what did they do before screens?]. You join a long, meandering queue penned in with webbing, in which you shuffle and shuffle, shifting your wheelie case a few inches at a time towards the check-in desk.

At last you gain the desk and an unsmiling, efficient check-in clerk who scrutinises your paperwork in a brusque way and affixes labels to your case, now lolling on the scales before you bid it goodbye-praying that you may meet again at your destination.

Lightened of your burden, you join the next queue for another shuffle to be relieved of your belt, your shoes and your dignity as you are scanned and deemed non-threatening enough to fly. You are then released into the cavernous shopping outlet that is the departures lounge and set about filling the hours until the flight leaves in the most painless fashion achievable. For some this means an early start in the ‘English pub’. For others a swoop into the retail outlets.

You are called to the ‘gate’. You travel endless corridors on a moving belt. Your documents get another perusal. You wait for your seat number to be called. You walk down a ramp, along another corridor, through a hatchway into the metal tube that is your conveyance. You are greeted by the handmaidens and handmen who are to minister to you. You locate the seat and shoehorn yourself into it, fasten the belt, plug in to the entertainment, eat everything they give you, sleep a bit, get stiff, hot, yawn a lot.

You arrive. Has it been worth it? Actually yes-we are in Barbados!