My flight from Brisbane to Sydney had been delayed en route, due to 60kph winds at Sydney leaving only one runway operational, and so the plane was directed into a holding pattern. Presumably we were stacked alongside other aircraft, though none were visible.
The Australian landscape had also disappeared surprisingly quickly into the gloom of evening outside the window, a gigantic land mass suddenly and easily secreted away. On take-off from Brisbane an hour earlier, ascending above the mangroves and oil refineries at the mouth of the Brisbane River, the lower stratosphere of South East Queensland had been suffuse with a yellowy haze from the dust storms apparently now firmly ensconced along the east coast. But now the view out of the thick starboard window was complex in composition and banal in content, a multi-layered montage of grime and moisture in the foreground, vast inhuman darkness pocked by the odd spot of light in the background, and my trousers reflected in the cabin reading light somewhere in-between.
The delay, which again reminds me of the brittle nature of the oft-inappropriately-named civil aviation (and the essentially unsustainable nature of domestic commercial aviation in the long run), does however give me enough time to both start and finish Alain de Botton’s A Week at the Airport, his account of spending, well, a week at the airport, as writer-in-residence at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, courtesy of BAA.
To my mild surprise, I enjoyed it hugely.