Wednesday 27 August 2014


Hi Honey, we're home!  We left home in West suburban Boston at 1400hrs local time and arrived home to The Mountain at 0800hrs the following day which makes it sound much more of a marathon than it was. Everyone was happier that we got to Logan Airport in good time but, as there were no real lines at any of the processing stages, we had a good bit of leisure-time in the Terminal.  We put these spare hours to ardently supporting the American economy by purchasing a variety of ephemeral products mostly "food" and clothing.

On the way out we had packed a sensible sort of picnic lunch pitta-bread sandwiches with cheese and salad and some fruit, so didn't get too upset about the lunch that Aer Lingus served.  But on the way home last night, we brought no food and relied on what the airline dished up.  "relied on" isn't quite the correct expression because if we and our 300+ fellow passengers didn't eat for 5-6 hours, the sky was not going to fall and nobody was going to starve to death.  I really think the conventions of airline meals need a re-think, so that you get something to fill the void that is simple, nutritious and doesn't require a huge amount of packaging.  I vote for sandwiches: maybe a choice of  ham&swiss or cheese, lettuce & tomato or hummus&olive.  As it was we got a travesty of a three course meal served in a clatter of silly dishes and sachets: 75g of water; a tiny bread-roll and too big a pat of butter; two tiny crackers overwhelmed by a slab of orange cheese; a dish of lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad with a repellent sachet of dressing; an aluminium dish of piping hot spiced chicken, veg and rice; a plastic-wrapped chocolate brownie for 'dessert'.  No vegetarian option was offered, so I got double chicken.  People get snitty about airline meals, but I thought the main course was pretty good.  I just object to the fussy pastiche of a balanced meal which doesn't really satisfy anyone except the company that gets the contract to assemble it all and deliver it to the airport.

Now here's another example of ignoring the principle of less is more. In the old days, there was a movie screen for each section of the airplane cabin; at a certain stage in the flight, usually after the meal, a film would come to life on these screens. In the mid 1980s I got to see Gremlins high over the Atlantic but without sound because I was too mean to pay to rent head-phones. Bizarrely, a few weeks later I got to hear Gremlins without picture on the Clipper express bus between London and Newcastle upon Tyne.  The best seat on these buses was front row on the upper deck where you got a great view of the landscape as you were whisked along to London. But the TV screen on which they showed the movies was right above the heads of the front-row passengers. Fast forward to transatlantic travel today. Airlines have long since given up trying to sell head-phones to travellers - you get them free - and they have stopped having screens like in an art-house cinema and now embed them in the back of each seat on the plane. This individualisation opens up the possibility that each passenger can choose their own film.  Why have a choice of three when you can offer 42 (!) films and numerous TV programs as well.  Video-on-demand is deeply unsatisfying because I find myself giving up on one film and flitting to another, and getting to watch neither properly.  If the choice was watch Gremlins or read a book, I suspect the overall satisfaction rating would go up.  By the time I'm ready for another trip across the Atlantic we'll all be watching films as wifi retinal implants, so the choice will be nearer to infinite than to 42.

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