Something weird just happened to me.
Without moving my head at all, I could flick my eyes to the left and see Eastbourne, the place in England where I live and spend most of my time, and I could flick them to the right and see the northern coast of France, the country I’m currently flying the length of in a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (it’s on the safety instructions in front of me).
I know it’s not WEIRD weird. The physics and the geography all work out. This is not a glitch in the Universe. In Eastbourne we are, after all, very close to France. I’ve always known that. The rest of the continent is, so people have always told me, just over the horizon. We can’t quite see it but I know it must be true because sometimes my car tunes into French radio when I’m driving down the seafront (and I leave it on because it makes me feel cultured). But seeing our proximity laid out in reality, not in map form but with my very own eyes, without having to even turn my head, has slightly blown my mind.
The interesting thing is how different the topography of the land is on this side. England is all small, neat green fields clumped up between sprawling towns and housing estates. Just a few miles away in France the fields are bigger, paler, laid out in disarray as though by a small, bored child.
Even the urban areas look different over here. It’s probably a long history of legislation, land laws and building regulations that shape how our countries look from the sky. I seem to remember something about the parcelling up of England’s fields for farmers in the middle ages. Perhaps that’s why they’re smaller.
Blogging is hard without the Internet to make me seem intelligent.
I don’t know why I’ve never noticed this about the English Channel before by the way. I’ve probably taken this particular flight about 40 times in my life. Maybe the flight path changed? Maybe I had better things to think about.
Flying takes something away from reality. I’ve always felt that, right from the moment you step into the airport you’re in some kind of weird consumerist simulation. It’s a timeless place. Never too early or late for a drink, or a very expensive burger, or a pair of flip flops you didn’t need. And there’s the blindingly bright white decor, the endless tannoy announcements, the glittery paths leading us into inescapable warrens of perfumes and alcohol and dreams. By the time we’ve actually made it through the disorientating labrynth of acrylic-carpeted corridors and travellators and found ourselves suddenly on a plane, we’ve been fully desensitised to the real world. No doubt this is probably a good thing, considering that the next thing we have to do is trust a complete stranger to keep us suspended 30,000 feet above planet Earth before depositing us back onto a narrow strip of concrete in a foreign country at about 400 miles an hour.
Anyway. I should finish here, we’re about to be deposited.