It occurred to me today that although I grew up under the flight path near Heathrow and suffered all the attendant nuisances of that location, I never actually flew from there. It was not only after I had left home but also after my parents had retired and moved away, that I finally took a flight from Heathrow. I had suffered the endless screams, the pollution and the heat; I’d even worked there one summer in the airport shops, but I’d never had the money to get on a plane, not until 1993 when I used the money my grandfather left me to take a trip to India.
It is insulting in many ways to compare this experience with ‘Twopence to Cross the Mersey‘, the first volume in Helen Forrester’s autobiography of a calamitous childhood where help, in the shape of her aunt, was literally across the Mersey, had she only been able to find twopence for the ferry. These books are remarkably dispassionate and a salutary reminder of where many of us would be without state benefits.
Interestingly, I’ve just heard that campaigners have lost their fight to challenge the expansion of Heathrow which seems a mad decision. Parliament has just agreed to declare a climate emergency: this makes no sense at all. We should be shrinking airports, not expanding them and we all need to fly less.
Which reminds me, if you have local council elections today don’t forget to vote!