Friday 15 October 2010


Autumn is such a bittersweet season. It is my favourite season. I love the smell of leaves rotting, sending their nutrition back into the earth, the bite of the crisp morning air, the mist rising up over the river signaling the imminent arrival of winter. Mother earth has given us all she has and needs a rest for a few months before she can return to feed us with her bounty and warmth.

It is the time of soups and stews; Moorish food to warm the body and soul. The last of the harvest has been brought in; no more tomatoes or courgettes. The last of the potato crop has been dug up and stored for the months of hibernation. The lure of staying indoors curled up with a book and/or the children is irresistible.

Gloves are found and scarves are dug out of the bottom of the basket where they have spent their summer holidays, discarded after the last snow; forgotten despite their faithful service of last winter.

The darkness of the grey, damp winter days have not yet deflated my spirits. The excitement of Christmas begins to build and the laughter of Halloween looms with the promise of a delightful Thanksgiving feast well executed.

School days have found their rhythm and the children progress through each day growing in their abilities and knowledge, getting a step closer to the adults they will some day become.

Before long the days will become nearly indistinguishable with the nights. A fire will burn in the grate all day on the weekends and the aga will warm the kitchen. Socks will be worn to bed and we will cuddle up to each other to keep warm.

But for now, the electric blue sky signals another glorious respite from the biting rain, the gale force winds and surprising snow. The gold and red leaves light up the daytime landscape like Christmas lights.

And we attend the very last Harvest Festival in which our youngest child will shine whilst she gives thanks for all that she has and remembers that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. It is a lesson we would do well to pause and remember.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Dissolution & Dark Fire by CJ Sansom

The first novel in the Master Shardlake work is a masterpiece in transporting the reader back in time to the sights, the smells, the sounds, but most importantly the feel of the reign of Henry VIII as he dissolves the monasteries across England. The novel is steeped in rich historical details and the plot carries you along without ever once losing your attention.

Master Shardlake is one of the most wonderful creations of historical crime fiction I have ever come across. He is a hunchback but the author doesn’t stoop to the carnival clich├ęs and for large parts of the book you forget he is disfigured much like you imagine he forgets about his obvious physical deformity until someone else notices it.

The setting of a monastery on the Sussex coast in Scarnsea is brilliantly executed right down to the lighting and the echoes of footsteps. It did make me think how he knew what a disintegrating monastery would sound like. I particularly liked the descriptions of the journeys back and forth to London by horseback in the mud with driving rain and the state those travels must have left their clothes in.

The plot and pacing are perfect. I found myself unwilling to stop until I finished a chapter and before I knew it I had started another chapter. I read this book whilst we were on our summer holidays in Cornwall and many a cold night was spent curled up in the sleeping bag reading with only the light of my headlamp.

The second novel in the series, Dark Fire, is also quite good but not as good as the first in my opinion. I found the plot device of a ancient weapon of mass destruction from the time of the great Byzantine empire unearthed by a couple of bumbling idiots in Tudor London to be improbable if not impossible. I also felt this novel didn’t have the cut and thrust of the previous one. It plodded.

I really liked the subplot of Elizabeth, a young girl refusing to defend herself against the accusation of murdering her cousin. I felt this was a stronger plot and everything else detracted it. I finished the novel only to find out what happened to Elizabeth.

One of Shardlake’s sidekicks, Malton, whom he befriends at the monastery in the first novel, takes a much more active role and is developed more fully. Malton is a former monk with Moorish parents who fled Spain. Shardlake “rescued” him from the homelessness he would surely have suffered from the dissolution of the monastery in the first novel. Malton is a complex individual fighting the prejudice of the day but also exposing all those things which Shardlake doesn't know.

Both books capture the uncertainty and confusion that the people of England must have felt as their great and good King floundered in his many attempts to produce an heir. He was like a desperate, lovesick teenager flip flopping between women. Unlike the dalliances of our politicians of today, those whims had a profound impact on his image as the head of the church, the defender of the faith, and the one who declared the pope irrelevant. England was in chaos with every new wife.

Both books are clearly meticulously researched and with some more attention to editing, I reckon the remaining 3 books in the series will be as captivating, which is exactly why I’ve bought them on iBooks.

Monday 11 October 2010

Twitter Explained

Twitter is a baffling tool in the social networking phenomenon dimension of the web. 

Most people get Facebook as a tool for linking up with newly found and long lost friends and all those in between.  I find Facebook invaluable for keeping in touch with the friends and family I have slung to the far reaches of the globe.  And then there are the people you know wouldn't necessarily make the effort to get together with or ring on the phone or write am email to or heaven forbid write a letter/postcard to.  But these are people who you would like to keep in touch with.  Facebook works for me.  Of course I have to be diligent about my privacy settings and I have yet to capitulate to my children's begging to be on Facebook.  I don't accept as friends people I don't know and I don't post photos or statuses I don't want the world to know.  But Facebook is a beautiful tool for finding long lost friends, like the best school mate from when you were 10 (Jessica) that you never would have gotten in touch with!  It's not hard to find friends using your email contact list or perusing friends of friends lists or searching for their names.  Just about anyone can figure out how to use it!

Linkedin is another social networking tool I use but this is for my business contacts.  These are the people that I have worked with, want to work with, are currently working with or want to work with me. It would be hard to keep track of them any other way unless you had a great business card filing system but even then you would lose track of them the minute they changed jobs.  Again, it's not hard to use LinkedIn.  When I get a business card, the first thing I do is link to them.  Then I throw the card away.  You can search on companies that you used to or currently work for and find just about everyone.  Easy peasy and invaluable, especially the mapping to other people's connections.  I can usually find someone who knows someone who can help.  LinkedIn has discussion forums which has helped my husband's small business with enquiries regarding products and services he would have struggled to answer on his own.

Twitter on the other hand is all a bit more obscure.  You have to invest a lot of time in Twitter finding the right people saying the things you are interested in and follow them.  Then you hope they follow you.  There is a lot of online marketing via twitter which is allegedly one of the primary benefits of the network but which I find wildly annoying.  I've been on twitter for several years now and have few followers but am assured that doesn't matter.  I try not to let it hurt my feelings.  I follow twice as many as follow me.  Daily I unfollow people who tweet rubbish which I am never interested in.  Daily I get followers that I don't follow back after looking at their recent tweets and deciding that on past performance they probably won't say anything in the future I would be interested in.  I block a lot of people who follow me.  I still can't say convincingly I get the whole twitter thing.  It can sometimes feel like I am participating in one great big long infomercial.  And since it takes quite a bit of time and effort to build up a catalogue of people you want to follow I can't say that it is easy.  I would hazard a guess that most people just don't invest that time and effort to make it worthwhile.  Since twitter has few people I personally or professionally know, it is a good place for me to vent anonymously.  And it is a great way to satisfy my insatiable curiosity of things are going on in a vast array of topics, eg energy, technology, poetry, writing, entertainment, politics, news. 

On a Venn diagram of my social networks, there is a big commonality between Facebook and LinkedIn.  It is inevitable that colleagues become friends, especially if you spend 8 hours/day for 8 years with a shared purpose.  Not so much with Twitter.  I have very few people (can count on both hands) that sit on Twitter and Facebook or Twitter and even fewer on all three (can count those on one hand).

What this does mean is that with the three networks, I have access to almost 900 people (allowing for duplicates in networks) which quite frankly I could never keep track of with an address book.  I certainly couldn't send them letters, or postcards, and could never give them a ring on the telephone.  But now I can electronically.  And keeping in touch with people is what it is all about.

Sunday 10 October 2010

I Did & I Still Do

8 years ago today, I put on a long white dress and a veil.  I met a man on the King's Road outside the Kensington & Chelsea registrar's office in London and when we went inside we said these words we wrote to each other.

"I give you this ring as I give you my heart that it might remind you that you are missed when we are apart.

I promise to be by your side as a friend and lover through poverty and prosperity, strength and weakness, to celebrate our triumphs and withstand our trials, to go the extra mile to realise our dreams and to meet you half way to resolve our differences, to face our future with hope, grace and love. Shoulder to should, hand in hand all the days of my life."

Happy Anniversary, Marc!  Thank you for all you are and all you make of me.

Saturday 9 October 2010

The Promise

The sun danced on the snow with a sparkling smile,
As two lovers sat quietly, alone for a while.
Then he turned and said, with a casual air
(Though he blushed from his chin to the tips of his hair),
"I think I might like to get married to you"

"Well then", she said "Well there's a thought
But what if we can't promise to be all that we ought,
If I'm late yet again, when we plan to go out.
For I know I can't promise, I'll learn to ignore
Dirty socks and damp towels strewn all over the floor.

So if we can't vow to be all that we should
I'm not sure what to do, though the idea's quite good".
But he gently smiled and tilted his head
Til his lips met her ear and softly he said

"I promise, to weave my dreams into your own,
That wherever you breathe will be my heart's home.
I promise, that whether with rags or with gold I am blessed
Your smile is the jewel I will treasure the best.

Do you think the, my love, we should marry - do you?"
"Yes" she said smiling "I do".

-  Eileen Rafter

Friday 8 October 2010


Fear is my enemy. It keeps me from doing what I want to do. Dangerously, it sometimes keeps me from doing what I need to do.

I fear making the wrong decision so I make no decision. Anyone who has seen my attempts (or lack thereof) at home decorating will attest. We have curtains but they are "cheap, disposable, thrown up in a hurry so I can tear them down in a hurry and not fret over the wasted money" type of curtains. This is true in every single room of the house.

Curtains are expensive and I can't really see in my mind's eye what I want or need to cover the windows and get the room to feel the way I want it to feel. I fear making a decision that doesn't look good and having to stare at that decision every single day. And worse subject my family and guests to that decision. And I won't be able to just throw it away because that would be a waste of money and bad for the planet.

Honestly though does my fear of making and living with an errant interior decorating decision ruin my life? No. Does it even diminish the joy I find in my life? Not really. Not when compared to the joy I get when my daughter cuddles up to me with her "I just woke up" eyes and mummy's warm safe body is all she wants right now.

But my fears runs deeper, ever so deeper, than that fabric swatch surface.

I didn't make any plans for the summer holidays last year. I had a vague idea of all the things we wanted to do and I was afraid if I started planning we wouldn't get to do all the things I wanted.  Phew, glad that didn't happen and we scrapped by.

I have had only 3 really grown up jobs in my life. I don't count the jobs before university. Those were practice jobs. But once I got serious about who I was and what I wanted to do with my career I found a job and I stayed there. The first job I stayed far too long than was good for me. The second job they pushed me out because I wouldn't jump when I needed to change from a traveling crazy haired consultant to a mum who lived just down the road from where she worked. Now I'm in my third job. I've been there for almost 8 years now. Some might say I need a change. I'm afraid that I change jobs and it ends up being worse than the one I've got, which actually isn't that bad. In fact, it's pretty good. So I stay. I don't even look. I fear no one will want me, which is stupid and idiotic, but real.

But the biggest fear I have right now is that I want to write. I haphazardly write here on this blog and it kept me satisfied for a good long time. But I want to get a bit more serious about my writing. I aim for a novel. I've started one.  Then stopped.  Then started again.

Now I'm writing a lot of blog posts and a little bit of my novel and a lot of another book and a screenplay and a couple poems (I am bad at poetry).  Every day I think of new ideas to write and suddenly there just isn't enough time in the day to write.  The other night I was up til 1 am and woke up at 5:30 am fearful that the thoughts in my head just wouldn't be there when I woke up if I went back to sleep, like a dream you wan to remember but can't.  One fear replaces another fear.

So I'm going to stop writing this and start writing something else.  Just to let you know, my fear is still there.  But I've asked it to go out for a bit and let me get on.  I've got a lot to do.

Thursday 7 October 2010

New Dads

I read an article in a newspaper (I think it was The Telegraph) a while back about how there is a new generation of dads emerging. These new kind of dads do the dishes, hoover the carpet, make dinner. In fact some even go so far as to be the primary care giver whilst mum goes out to earn the wage. Well goody for them. What do they want, a medal?

Women have been doing these jobs for ages and they certainly haven’t won any medals. In fact the press largely ignores their ongoing selfless contribution to raising the next generation of adults. But boy golly, a dad lends a hand to the running of a house and it is worth a feature article. Give me a break.

Let me tell you about the next generation of dads as I observe it.

1. Do Over Dad. This is the dad that has decided he isn’t quite happy with the wife and family he made the first time so he has decided to abandon them and do it all over again with a new woman and new children. This dad rarely visits his first children. If he does, it rarely ends in a satisfactory outcome for the children and the now single mother is left wiping the tears of children disappointed when these dads don’t turn up at their football matches or music concerts or dramatic performances. This dad is never around when they are sick or have nightmares in the middle of the night. The dad prefers to pretend that the first family never happened.

2. Absent Dad. This is the dad that left. And never came back. Ever.

3. Career Dad. This is the dad so obsessed with himself and his career that he never or rarely makes it home to have dinner with his children. He rarely, if ever, attends school meetings with the teacher because the only value he imagines himself as having is earning more money or getting an outstanding performance appraisal from his boss who would quite frankly make him redundant with the nod of a head if it was between him or the dad. He’s fooling himself and leaving his children feeling abandoned.

4. Late Again Dad. This is the dad who never makes it in time to anything. He misses the first half of the birthday party because he wanted to watch the last half of the football match on television or finish his pint at the pub. The message this dad sends to his children is that the time he spends away from his children is worth more to him than the time he spends with his children.

5. Mobile Device Dad. This is the dad that is there in body but absent in mind. He stands apart from the group of parents whilst fast and furiously typing away on his blackberry/iPhone/mobile device of choice. He is so self important he can’t be bothered to engage with anyone. He takes phone calls or replies to emails during dinner or a rainy Saturday at the cinema.

So maybe there is an increase of dads more fully engaged in family life. But I would argue there is a larger group of dads less engaged in family life who are abdicating responsibility for their family to their wife/partner whilst pursuing a self serving agenda.

Let me just say before everyone spams the heck out of my comments, there are a lot of great dads out there. My husband is way more engaged in our children’s lives than my father ever was. He used to do the majority of nappy changes (I have a weak gag reflux – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). He does way more of the bath time than I do since I once read an article that children get better academic results if they are given bath time by their dad (I made him read it and have been using it ever since.) My husband has been known to make a wicked lasagna. It is fair to say that we don’t have a traditional divide of household duties in our home just like many of you out there.

And to be fair there ain’t nothing wrong with the traditional divide if that suits each skill set. Whilst my husband can just about manage to cook a meal, he can’t plan a a weekly meal schedule or do the grocery shopping (without wildly exceeding our budget), and trust me when he’s done every dish in the kitchen is dirty so I don’t let him do it very often.

What I couldn’t abide was this self congratulating attitude in the article that dads were doing so much better than they used. Looking round, that’s not what I see. Unless we have ridiculously low expectations of the men among us. And I know that can’t be true. Or maybe it is if you read The Telegraph.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Under the Influence

365 days have passed me by and the passage of time fails to have much effect on me. I’ll bet I’ve got a few more wrinkles and my weight has probably gone up and/or down. My hangovers last longer but I don’t get as drunk as often. My 40s are passing me by and I’m relatively ok with that. I don’t think I could survive the agony of examining every inch of my face or body for endless hours as is the habit of teenage girls and was most certainly my habit in my 20s. There’s just way too much wrong with it all now.

My children seem to grow up every time they walk back into a room. They don’t need my presence or even my permission. They even mature over night as they sleep and dream of gigantic sweet shops. They lose teeth. They grow new ones. They learn new words. Their hair grows. Their feet grow. I sometimes don’t recognize my babies in the bodies of this 9 and nearly 7 year old.

I’m excited and frightened of the people they will one day become. I watch my son’s fragile ego take a beating due to his small stature. No matter how many times I assure him that dynamite comes in small packages, his classmates don’t exactly agree and his performance on the rugby pitch is not exactly winning him a place on the A team. Then I watch him sing. And I see his ego soar up with the eagles. He is in his element. I have seen the singing of his choir move people to tears.

My daughter fears and withdraws from conflict or confrontation of any kind, which will most certainly keep her out of a street fight for which I am most grateful. Bu when classmates are not treating her with respect she loses her confidence and doesn’t stand up for herself. She would rather not answer a question than risk getting it wrong in front of everyone. She has a wicked sense of humour and can make me laugh my fool head off with her wry commentary on life but her tears when she can’t read a book break my heart.

With every passing year the influence a mother has on a child’s life diminishes with every passing day. Indeed this is the very job of a parent: to teach your child to be an independent and contributing member of society. They are part of your body and then they are born, the umbilical cord is cut and suddenly they are separate. We teach them to feed themselves. Then we teach them to walk. My heart leaped and then fell to the ground as I watched them take their first tentative steps away from me because I knew eventually they would walk out the door of our home and not come back for days, weeks, years. Finally, we hope they learn to have the confidence to go out into the big wide world and make their own way: find happiness in a career, find love, find joy in their own children, find contentment in their own wisdom and judgement. Everything you do leads them down the path you wish for them. But ultimately they pick their own road, their own journey through life.

As a parent your influence begins to diminish within the first year of their life. First I went back to work and the child minder had a part to play. Then they started school and the teachers had a large part to play. And now I find their peer group is starting influence their decisions and I’m caught in a crisis of confidence. Not long from now their peer group will be the primary influence on their lives. Did I tech them to pick the right friends? Did I teach them well enough about everything else, quickly enough? Did I simply teach them enough? Is what I’ve given them a sound foundation for the future? How much longer will they be influenced by me and does that have to come to an end?

Maybe it doesn’t ever end. My mother and father still have a profound influence on my life’s decisions, both good and bad. My grandmother, even though she is no longer living, is constant source of answers when I ask the question “What would nanny say?” For now, I will continue to hope that my voice can be heard over that of others even when I’m not there.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smails

So here it is:  the first book review I've published since 5 April, precisely 6 months ago.  You have been warned.  Regrettably, the novel at the top of the stack is not one about which I have many good things to say.

The possibility of one of my children dying before me haunts my sleep. I have nightmares of attending their funerals. I can’t even think about it so this is a hard post to write and it was an even harder book to read.

The worst possibly scenario is my children dying because of something I did: my driving, my carelessness. I imagine the rubbish that would become our lives. I doubt I would recover. Ever.

So I was interested in what Caroline Smails had to say about this scenario in her book Like Bees to Honey. She didn’t hold my attention long and my interest waned.

Nina is a dull character and I felt the personality flaws were used as a way of making her more interesting.  I found it made her less sympathetic and more annoying.  Christopher is predictable (the "shock revelation" didn't surprise me at all) and the constant repetition of words, phrases, and noises quickly became irritating and I began to imagine that maybe Ms Smails didn’t have much of a handle on this topic either. And she certainly didn’t have much of a book. Without this repetition she certainly had a few 10,000 less words which if deleted could have left her with little more than a short story.

I entertained the possibility that the purpose of this repetition was to make the point that Nina was living her tragedy over and over, is the road through the grief and just needs things pounded into her head. But the affect on the reader is pure boredom and frustration, like someone is pounding you on the head. I felt Ms Smails used this device repeatedly thinking maybe her reader wouldn’t realise how recovering from the death of your child might be difficult. Sure wish she’d give us more credit than that.

The preaching of Jesus to Tilly using her own words was painful to read. I hope when/if Jesus ever speaks to me he doesn’t speak to me like I speak. I hope he has something more clever to say than I could ever come up with.

There is a small passage in the cave at Il Madonna Talghar that is beautiful and captures what a small step towards recovery from such a tragedy might feel like. But it is over way too soon and this skillful writing doesn’t appear anywhere else in the book.

Ms Smails might have some talent but I think she needs a bit more time to refine her next novel and maybe a better editor.

PS  In the book group, none of the women liked it but the one man did.  Go figure!

Monday 4 October 2010

Blogging About Books

I used to post a lot of book reviews on this site but one time a colleague of mine said he checked my site every day but if there was a book review posted he would just skip it and come back the next day. I thought maybe I couldn’t write book reviews. So I stopped. Writers have fragile egos. Even this writer.

What I failed to grasp was that this man actually just didn’t enjoy reading. This seemed like a bizarre and foreign concept to a girl/woman who read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the age of 14 and basically has never been frightened by a piece of literature since. But now I think maybe he just didn’t really care what I, or anyone else had to say, had to say about a book, any book.

There was another totally self serving reason for writing book reviews on the blog. I forget what I read. Maybe that makes me a bad reader. But I read a lot. I'm a member of two book groups. One group sometimes almost manages to get the members to read 1 book but the other group has many members reading both books. Yeah, you read that correctly. I am a member of a book group that identifies 2 books per month. On a bad month, I can only manage 2 books/month. But on a good month and with some good novels, I devour 5 or 6 novels. But that’s a lot of books to be reading and keeping track of.

For years I didn’t read The Lovely Bones by Ablice Sebold because I thought I had already read it. I didn’t read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover because I thought it was by the same author who wrote Clan of the Cave Bear and I had read that years ago on my mother’s recommendation. Despite my mother (and many others) loving it, I hated it. Not having a reference as to what I had read already meant that it took me years to read both these books which I know realize was a loss, particularly The Poisonwood Bible which simply put is epic and beautiful.  Watch for my review coming soon!

I also forget which book is which. People will start talking about books I know I’ve read and I just get a blank look on my face. I can’t remember the characters and have only a vague inkling what is was about. It takes a few moments but usually I am able to piece together enough fragments from my memory to recall a skeletal outline of the plot and form an opinion about whether I liked it or not. But please do not ask me what the names of the characters were. And most definitely avoid any deep discussion of their development or motivations.

This frustrates the heck out of me. I get immersed in great books and they have the power to change my life. I forget to eat. I forget I have to do the school pickup. Often I want to forget to go to work. One author, Lionel Shriver, has written 2 books which still have a profound influence on my thinking, We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Post Birthday World. Everything else she has written is rubbish, especially her latest, So Much for That (watch out for that review too!). But those 2 books, which are entirely different from each other, have had an elemental effect on me and my thinking. But I can’t tell you the characters names and if I were to describe them to you today, I would probably even mess up the plot arch.

There is only one book which remains fresh in my mind perpetually and that is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This is primarily due to the fact that I have read and reread this book about 8 times. I cry every time I read it and don’t think I will ever forget it. It fundamentally changed my feelings towards the people of Afghanistan and the war the west is waging against them. If you haven’t read it, you should. Now, before you read anything else.

The point of all this is that I am notifying you my loyal readers and fans that I am going to return to publishing my book reviews on this blog. Not because I don’t care about what my readers think but mostly because this is my blog and I can do what I want to. If you don’t like the book reviews, skip reading that day. But come back tomorrow. Even I rarely manage to read more than 1 book in 2 days.

Sunday 3 October 2010

A380s at Heathrow

This morning I am living under the flight path for landing aircraft at Heathrow airport. I don’t move around but the approach pattern does. We only have to deal with the noise every third or fourth day. I have lived in or around this area ever since I moved to the UK and trust me when I say that you get used to the noise very quickly and I hardly notice it unless I’m standing in the garden trying to speak to someone. BBQs can be frustrating. When the Icelandic volcano was erupting, we had a glorious week of silence. During my recent Scottish retreat, my perceived blissful isolation was broken only twice by the roar of a military jet flying exercises. I felt violated.

A friend of mine was complaining on Facebook the other day about how airplanes flying over Windsor Castle ruins the full force of the historical impact when the racket of modern day invades. This same friend travels abroad several times every year and appears to have forgotten that without the airport and these very same planes, his journeys would be severely more difficult and fewer and farther in between.

And whilst I may protest the noise, I know I am downright pleased as punch when I can make an early morning 7 am flight knowing that one of the world’s largest airports is a mere 6 miles away. We can get there in 20 minutes or 10 depending on the audacity of our taxi driver. Or you can spend an entire afternoon quaffing magnums of champagne whilst enjoying a thrilling polo match on a glorious sunny English summer day and then transport yourself in minutes for a quick hop over to Zurich without missing a beat. (not entirely true but that’s another post)

There has been a debate raging for several years about the addition of a third runway at Heathrow airport. Currently, London boasts the busiest airspace in the world with 2 of its airports, Gatwick and Heathrow in the top ten of busiest airports in terms of number of passengers. Heathrow alone is the third busiest airport in terms of number of passengers which is astonishing considering this country has a population of only 62 million. Airports in slots 1 and 2 are both in the USA (Atlanta & Chicago) a country with a population of just over 307 million. How does that work?

Adding a third airport has been violently opposed my residents of the surrounding neighbourhoods. No surprise there. I’m not too happy of what a third runway would do to my property value. What these protestors forget is that the people, including themselves, need to own that responsibility. If you don’t want another runway, stop flying.

Over 15 million passengers travel through Heathrow during the year. Many of those are merely connecting to other flights. Could a possible solution be to build another airport further away from London which could handle the connecting traffic? The north east of England is in sore need of employment since the demise of manufacturing and a large international airport would no doubt be a welcome employment opportunity for those economically challenged parts of the country.

My family is full of plane spotters. My daughter and husband could quite honestly watch planes land all day. I would rather do just about anything including clean the toilets. But I do learn things by listening to them prattle on. Most valuably I’ve learned that the new A380 Airbus is much quieter when flying overhead than any other older models including the 737 or 777. Not only that, but the plane is huge. Gigantic. It can carry 555 passengers if it is split into three classes or 840 if only one class is offered. By comparison, the 777 can only carry a maximum of 440 with one class and 340 with 3 classes.

So, it can carry more people so it can make fewer flights and it is quieter. My solution for avoiding building another runway at Heathrow airport is simple. Replace all the legacy aircraft with the new A380 and everyone will be happy. The already dwindling wildlife in the area will not be impacted. The airports neighbours will have a wee bit more peace and quiet. The airlines will make more money having to fly fewer flights.

Am I the only one who thinks this is blindingly obvious?