Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Up where we don't belong

When I was 11, I wanted to be a pilot. It stayed with me for two years, until I realised I was much better at writing than physics; at talking than flying.

And now, I sit on my couch and watch the new British Airways advert. Goosebumps crawl across my arms. What would it have been like to fly with the wind in your hair? How would it have been training to lift all those tonnes off the ground and into the air? Could I really have become a captain?

I watch that advert and its romance makes me hold my breath. The first time I saw it, I was entranced. From the first scene of the man in that open-topped flying machine, I said to myself, Please be British Airways.

The magic of flying has never left me. It's not just that scientists never really understood how planes got in the air until relatively recently; or how they design those trays of food so everything fits within inches; or the walk of the crew as they stride along with their smart suitcases, imaculate and self-assured.

It's the possibility of the impossible. National Geopgraphic recently ran a front cover, Can we fly? http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/personal-flight/shute-text The dream will never go away.

I am fortunate enough to have a recurring dream about flying. It comes round about once every year, and it's exactly the same as the first time I dreamt it around the age of seven. I am flying over the estate I used to live on. It's a sunny day and I simply swoop over all the little pacthes of garden and cottages. It's exhilarating.

However, we came from the sea. Some 3.8 billion years ago life began there. Many of us live on islands. We are surrounded. The need to swim is therefore great. I couldn't imagine a life without seeing water, especially the ocean, and want to get wet. It pulses through our bodies, our cells.

And yet; that British Airways advert fills me with the nostalgia of flight. It was even the subject of my first prize winning poem when I was eight (see below).

But we don't belong there. I must keep my feet firmly on the ground. I will never be a British Airways captain.

I'll just keep dreaming.


One night I was dreaming
I was flying like a concorde.
I could touch the clouds.
I could see the lord.

I said, "Could you pinch me
To see if I'm flying?"
The lord said, "You're dreaming."
I said, "But I'm trying."

"Trying what?" said the lord.
"I'm trying to fly," I said.
When all of a suddent as if by magic
I woke up in my bed.

To view the British Airways advert see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4JdQi60an0&feature=relmfu

Picture credit: Nic Morrish

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