The colour of travel
Ahead of Morning Ireland and the seven o’clock news on RTE Radio 1, the presenter played The Great Defector by the Irish band Bell X1.
Approaching Ballyfermot roundabout, the refrain of the song was reached:
Comin’ into land and now, I
love the colour of it all.
Blue lights on the runway, I
love the colour of it all.
‘Enjambment,’ I thought. The continuing of a phrase from one line of a stanza to the next.
This year will probably be the only time in my life when I am timetabled as an English teacher (my previous experience was in covering English lessons for Year 8 classes in England). Without having trained to teach English, and not being registered to do so, it seems unlikely that, other than in extreme circumstances, any school would engage me as a regular English teacher. However, I have enjoyed the experience, even if the students have been less enthusiastic.
After a digression worthy of a story told by Ronnie Corbett, to return to Bell X1 the wheels of whose airliner are about to touch the ground.
Once, the experience of flying was exciting. The colour of it all at night time, the lights of the runway, and the taxiways, and the terminal and wingtips combined to weave a sensory experience.
Then it all changed.
Last summer, I flew from Bristol to Dublin and back again for £25.98. I had no baggage. The fare from Ballyfermot to the Airport was €2 each way, such is the value of public transport in Dublin. There is no excitement in a £12.99 flight. There is much time spent standing in queues and there is a sense of relief at being only five feet seven inches tall and having enough legroom in the cramped aircraft cabin, but there is no excitement.
The days when I might have loved the colour of it all are long past.
Yet there was something in the lyrics of the song that evoked memories of moments long past. Joining the Chapelizod bypass and driving toward the M4 motorway, I remembered.
The colour of it all when I was young was not the colour of the runway lights drawing closer by the second, it was the colour of the cats’ eyes at motorway junctions.
The only time we had occasion to travel on the motorway was when we were going to Devon or Cornwall on holiday. The different coloured cats’ eyes would have been encountered as we joined the motorway on our journey westward. The colour of it all was the colour of time away, time that was different.
My first flight was from Heathrow to Toulouse. I was agog all the way, and when coming into land the jet turned on a sixpence where the plane felt above 45 degrees.
Only one other was as fun. And that was landing at the old Olympic Airlines on the edge of Athens.
I’m not sure any flight I have taken was ever an experience I enjoyed! I love the moment when the plane is safely on the ground and they say ‘welcome’ to wherever and tell you the local time.