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Saturday, 17 April 2010

There's a kinda hush

If you live in London (but aren't at this moment wanting to travel by plane) now is a very special time. Thanks to a force of nature we can experience a unique sound - the non sound of aircraft. It's strange looking in the sky and the biggest thing up there is a heron, duck or seagull flying overhead.

Enjoy this time; it won't last much longer. Soon the air will vibrate to the sound of massive engines sucking in air, superheating and blasting it across the skies. We'll regain the familiar sound of engines whining as the plane throttles back for an approach to City Airport, Heathrow or Stanstead. We'll soon be once again tripping over crowds dragging their noisy luggage trolleys, barging their way along narrow tube platforms heading for the aero conveyor belts that are the airports that encircle London.

This does remind us of the trade-off we pay for seemingly inexhaustible air travel. We surrender the silence, the skies, acres of green space to the holiday troop carriers - sending over millions of invaders to secure beach heads in ancient cities, ancient coast lines and green hills and valleys.

But for the moment all that's ceased because of an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland. The obvious question is how long can our air space stay shut down? Who knows when the pumice regurgitation will stop,or at least, cease to be injurious to jet engines. Can anyone imagine air travel into and out of the UK being stopped for a  week or two? The economic impact, at this time especially, would be pretty significant. And there would be political fall out. It may be the result of a natural event, but how the authorities mitigate the effects will be of crucial concern.  If I were one of the big-wigs at the National Air Traffic Service (NATs) I'd be increasingly nervous as the volcano continues to belch out  its knife sharp pumice.

So far the press isn't screaming "Something must be done!", but already we're hearing stories of tourists likely to be stranded for 10 days even if the air space re-opens tomorrow. There are food shortage scares bubbling under. More worrying the twitters and bloggers are revving up. The Daily Mail  has over 370 mostly critical comments on its web page about the authorities' response and the trouble and inconvenience this is ash is causing. It won't take much for that to translate into the trouble and inconvenience the authorities' response to this ash is causing.

In the mean time enjoy the quiet.

One person who will be experiencing the silence of eternity is 16 year old Agnes Sina-Inakoju shot in the neck while queuing in a take away shop in Hackney. The suspects appear to be teenagers.

If people are to get angry; get angry about this. Get angry at our failure to effectively tackle poverty, lack of opportunity, drugs, exclusion and so many people's sense of helplessness and despair.

And use that anger to hone your critical senses when your scrutinise the offering of the parties in this General Election. And Vote.

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