The Philosophy, History and Sociology of Flying in the 21st Century (abridged)

by Jez Bond

As I sit here on the balcony of a beautiful penthouse in the Algarve, from where Mark Cameron and I are penning Park Theatre's first ever Christmas show, I feel incredibly privileged. The work is hard, but the warm weather and comfortable surroundings make for an incredibly pleasant change of scenery - and the occasional game of tennis and trip to the spa certainly doesn't hinder matters. Best of all I am being treated to both flights and accommodation through the generosity of two kind friends - if that wasn't the case I'd probably be stuck in a windowless site office at this exact moment in time.

I have always considered myself a very confident traveller. I enjoy adventure, have an ear for accents and languages and have been fortunate enough to have flown abroad from a young age. You couldn't say I was unaccustomed to luggage, passports and airplanes.

Yet, despite accruing a considerable number of air miles (if only I had collected) I can never shirk the feeling of unease the seconds immediately following a flight's take-off.

Levelled out at 42,000 feet the craft feels sturdy, stable and safe but when the wheels first leave the tarmac and the climb commences, the plane truly feels like a chunk of metal; fighting science and set to loose. What is it about these first shuddering moments before the equilibrium is restored?

Is there a parallel with our theatrical adventure - whereby to the outside world the early stages of the theatre's inception feel precarious and perhaps even fictitious compared to the physical reality of seeing a finished, operating and inhabited building? For those of us making it, I should add, the blood, sweat and tears, the cables, bricks and steel have always been strikingly real.

Whatever if is, the rush, the thrill, the clunking of machines, we're here now - and, in a few days time, we'll be heading back through the skies. And as we take off and begin our ascent I'll remind myself that just like the theatre, the plane will fly - perhaps we all need a little boost of confidence in the things we don't fully understand.



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