All I needed was Arlo Guthrie on the sound system: “Coming into London from over the Po, flying in a big airliiiner.....”. It was one of those dream flights, a morning flight in from Abu Dhabi to London and a relatively clear spring light kind of day. Looking down I could see the Rhein in all its unquenchable, industrial glory. There was no doubt about it, somehow it’s features were unmistakeable even though I’d never seen it before from this angle. The light reflecting off the water of this majestic river, the roof tops, the reservoirs and canals made it all look like one great big circuit board. In so many ways the feeling was of looking at one massive aerial snapshot of how our world has become; so interlinked, so completely reliant on the industry that lay stretched out over hundreds of kilometers, so Man Made. Even the river was seemingly more about what man had done to it than anything natural. I felt incredibly privileged to have this point of view, this god seat that allowed me to watch frame by frame this tapestry of man roll out underneath me. For a moment it felt like I was looking down on a detail from Klimt’s lovers tapestry in the Kiss.
The layout of the fields regular here, distorted elsewhere, the stitching of the canals and roads and the mixed tonality of green and muted gold gave it a form that, from the ground, would seem completely flat. Soon it became a matchstick model cleaved open with a jagged knife.Then we hit Rotterdam, another weird arsed circuit board, more buttons that wiring and, despite its being immediately recognisable, it was so abstract, so like traveling across a precisely prepared artwork.
I’m sure if the air steward had been able to take a photo of me he would’ve captured me open mouthed, caught in a frozen dream of amazement and wonder. If only they could invent the glass aeroplane where every seat had this kind of view or better. Everyone on the plane then could’ve marveled at the North Sea wind farm somewhere off Foulness and the halo neatly wrapped around the shadow of the plane as the clouds began to fill in the view of the Thames and darken the land below.
Of course these kinds of experiences ultimately just keep feeding the wanderlust, fueling that never satisfied hunger for visual adventure. But isn’t that primally wired into our DNA? It’s just become ever more complex as our options have grown; every dream realised gets crossed of by a pen that writes two more. I don’t believe we die satisfied; we die, if we ‘re lucky enough to look at death before it comes, with a sense of resignation that there will never be enough lifetimes to complete our library of experiences. Ohoh, here I go again. But it’s true.
How many window seats have you had? How many landscapes have you gazed down on open mouthed? I really hope this is a shared passion and you can dig what I'm saying. If the answer isn’t in the many then I’m sorry for you because on a good day it really is one of the great treats of life and I seriously advise you to make sure you book one next time; but try to make sure it’s not over the wing. Being over the wing sucks; I don’t care what they say, it’ll make next to no difference in the bizarre and wicked eventuality of a crash over water. In that instance please let me take the vapourisation option. No, it has to be the window seat, with the full uninterrupted view every time and if they can’t invent the glass plane then maybe they can invent the really super long narrow plane that only has window seats, with optically perfect glass, top mounted wings and flight schedules that only take off in the very best light. It would be good for business I can guarantee it. Should we form a lobby group?