On this occasion i was invited by a friend whom i hadn't seen in years. And with the fine people at eurostar offering fantastic return deals at £59, it seemed churlish not to grasp the opportunity – if just to get away from the silly madness flying under the bloody tourettes purported big society banner – a headless environment where people run around wishing that their headlessness is firmly kept away from the glare of exposure, but it certainly sounds chummily nice.
Being a crabby traveller i find airports, and the so called "stassi" security measures they contain for our benefit, nothing less than a sad sop. If they were serious about security each person would be stripped down to their nothings and forced to wear some kind of disposable (but recyclable) garment. The passenger would then, naturally, be reunited with all their
Indeed why not ban hand-luggage from the cabin altogether and dump everyone’s crap in the hold? A dreadful chore i know; but, just imagine not having to worry about that strange foreign-looking person sitting two rows down, who's just started to sweat uncontrollably!
No, travelling for me and I suspect for many of you too, involves far more hours wasted that could be spent contentedly tucked happily away in bed. Failing that, checking over the luggage for the umpteenth time before been quietly confident pants hadn't been forgotten. Even spending more time at the destination - despite the final nights bout of food poisoning, all before making that fateful return trip back in a nice new maglev carriage or popping on a pad and been beamed away.
When it comes to security, it always makes me ponder on the considerable number of passenger journeys taking place around the globe day by day, year upon year, who meet with a fate no worse than a greyhound discovering that the tasty morsel its chasing after to devour and fill its half starving stomach, is nothing more significant than insubstantial fluff. Yet there's more fear surrounding the act of flying than any other type of activity - bar sticking your head in a nuclear reactor, or playing russian roulette with a meth'd out crack head. Even dying by bungee jumping nowadays makes you into a sports martyr and garners you the respect you failed to garner whilst been alive.
Looking through the league tables of probability, you have less chance of dying from a bizarre kind of plane malfunction: whether caused by material fatigue, or some successful pants bomber managing to actually do the plane in (at roughly 0.000.014%), than you have of dying in the uk in a car accident which trots in somewhere around the region of 0.013%. Even the chance of been struck by lightning somewhere on the globe pops in at a measly 0.000.34%, which means you have a far greater chance of dying horribly from having your number called by a lightning bolt from the ledger in the sky, coming to you in the form of a plane incident.
But, put another way, more people die from falling birds, choking on a peanut or been hit in the head by a golf ball than dying sitting in seat 17A of an aeroplane. Sadly, before you get too carried away, there's more chance of you dying in a plane incident than chance of you winning the euromillions lottery jackpot, which is stuck way down the league of improbables at 0.000.000.86%.
Don't get me wrong, we're all (with 100% certainty) going to kick the bucket, pop our clogs, give back our birthday suits, feed the worms, be dust in the clouds... the only random variable is simply that of timing.
Of course security hawks will tell you that the amount of money spent on making us queue like sheep in a pen, or protestors been kettled has all been worth it, which in 2011 apparently reached the grand sum of $19.1bn and could top $45.13bn by 2018, according to security director news from research conducted by frost & sullivans 'global airport security market assessment' report.
Imagine that, $19.1bn in one year poured in to help ensure the safety of passengers and the security of flights. So it's good that all the money terminally spent stuffing all the security holes and hence the tide of terrorist menaces, that would otherwise cause that side of the fatality figures to er, explode, met with unqualified success. Apart from the few individuals who managed to get on-board aeroplanes with false passports or no passports at all. Such as the 12 year old boy in 2006 who managed to evade the heightened measures and boarded a plane at gatwick for lisbon, who was described by cnn in one of their less hysterical notorious moments as the “uk terror boy”; or the 11 year old boy who in 2012 managed to get on a manchester to italy flight, but by then this grievous feral terror plot was described in far less hysterical terms - and they were the first three search results which appeared from my query.
Incidents which no doubt happened decades before the billions were sequestrated or spent, it's just that we haven't realised it yet. On the other side, the manufacturers will claim just how fantastic and improved the security and designs of the new aeroplanes are, thus ensuring their ongoing improvements are suitably noticed by those signing the contracts on the one side of the fence. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the necessity of prying through all your emails viewed as required reading by the spying brigade, occupying the other side of the fence.
Yet when you look at how full of holes and shoddy the security at most airports around the world are, it's more a question of how come the terrorists have failed to pull of more spectaculars than the relative few they have actually achieved?
In comparison train travel is relatively easy on the experience, the eye and body – if we ignore the tragic instance of the spanish crash on the 26th July 2013. The few occasions i've journeyed on the eurostar for example have been relatively quick, easy on the stress levels, but even more importantly (as i discovered on my last journey) if you glower a bit, people tend avoiding talking to you, which is a boon; especially if the trite conversations i had the displeasure of overhearing going on around me were anything at all to go by.
To be somewhat serious, i have always loathed travelling by air which i put down to been an uncontrollable sweater - even when young. It's the heat of the airports combined with the stifling air, and nothing whatsoever to do with the six bloody mary's i'd have knocked back in less than 30 minutes, just to steady and calm my nerves whilst stopping images from those bloody airplane disaster movies, let alone the disaster of the day from normal news, from crowding out anything else. The travel to and from the airport. The two plus waiting hours before take off, unless you're a diamond/platinum/uber-gold frequent flyer. The circling, the holding patterns, the person in front deciding to tilt their seat back when you're trying to eat the nutrition-less cardboard passing for regurgitated puke (someone had the temerity to call food), whilst juggling with a cup of burning coffee. The air-sickness, the drunk, and the person behind you who believes they're setting a new guinness book of records' - as the passenger annoyingly pressing the attendance bell (do they still call them that) more times than any other passenger, ever.
And sadly, I haven't even reached paris yet!
To be continued, before the month's out!