Beautiful clear blue skies


If there is a hell, then one of its outermost circles is undoubtedly modelled on one of the larger British airports, with uncomfortable seating, overpriced tat shops and several groups of grumpy, exhausted, hung-over blokes, not to mention the obligatory parties of slightly overweight women with sparkly cowboy-hats and T-Shirts telling us they’re travelling to/from KELLIE’S MEGA HEN WEEKEND, PRAGUE 2010.

So the grounding of all UK flights as a result of the eructations of Icelandic Volcano Explosionssonson must be awful for the poor souls stuck on the ground with no other way of getting home. It’s shit.

(Actually, having recently travelled by Condor Ferries, I’ve been forced to realise that going by boat isn’t always better either.)

For everyone else though there is the strange, unexpected pleasure of clear blue skies with no contrails in them.

Contrails – the vapour trails left by aircraft engines (vortices created by wingtips are not the same thing, but are generally described as contrails, too) – are something we kinda take for granted, and that nobody ever devotes much thought to, apart from a small group of conspiracy theorists who believe that contrails are impregnated with chemicals as part of a fiendish plot.

The interesting thing about the contrail conspiracies is that they don’t go anywhere. Contrails – “chemtrails”, if you will – are a conspiracy … and that’s it. There is no dominant theory as to what the chemicals in contrails might be, or who’s putting them there (well, governments probably) or what their purpose is. Like most of these things, though, the conspiracy theory is mainly the domain of strange folks whose views tend to the far right of the political spectrum. And it’s mostly Americans we’re talking about here, though it does have some currency in the UK. It even made it onto Bristol’s own Indymedia site a few years ago. One suspects that other Indymedia entries on the same subject were deleted on grounds of sanity.

But now … No contrails for a day or two, and maybe more. If by this evening people are starting to turn gay, or communist, or indeed there’s a breakdown of consensus reality, then we’ll know there was something to it all along.

And if nothing happens, our conspiracist chums will take refuge, as people with supernatural beliefs usually do, in our old friend cognitive dissonance.

That sky sure is beautiful, though.


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