Who are these strangers in the skies?

I RECENTLY discovered flightradar24 – a website that tracks and identifies planes in flight. Now, when I see a vapour trail in the sky over Swansea, I have to discover more.

I have watched jetliners above me, flying to London from New York, Boston or Montreal; cargo flights on their long journey from Chicago to Luxembourg; budget airliners heading from Faro to Manchester, and Liverpool to Lisbon; and – most intriguingly – a regular flight from Brussels to Washington, which I imagine is shuttling between the seats of EU and US government.

On Wednesday night I was in the hot tub, with a plastic beaker containing a little Southern Comfort (my favourite spirit) and a lot of ice. It was a clear night, and I lay there, sipping my drink and looking at the stars. I watched the lights of planes heading east, nearing the end of their journeys from American cities and beginning their long descent into Heathrow. The unblinking white dot of a satellite crossed the sky, heading north for Scotland and its orbit above the roof of the Earth.

Of all of these bodies in the sky, stars and aeroplanes and satellites, I am most curious about the people in the planes. Who are they, and why are they making their journeys through the night? I raised my beaker in a silent toast to these strangers, as they flew over Swansea at six hundred miles per hour.

LIFE IS STRANGE

I WAS back on the graveyard shift this week. Firstly to my parents’ and maternal grandparents’ graves at Zion chapel, then to the Feeney family’s and paternal grandmother’s graves that we recently discovered at St Barnabas church.

While I was doing what I could to tidy up the last of these, it struck me that, if my father’s mother had not died giving birth, I might never have existed.

If she had lived, my father would not have been raised by the two spinster aunts who lived a few doors away from the house where my mother lived. My parents would not have grown up as near neighbours; each might have met and married somebody else, and I would never have been born.

Strange, to look at your grandmother’s grave and think that, however indirectly, she died so that you could live.

RECIPE FOR A PERFECT MARRIAGE

THE Current Mrs Feeney and I were on our way to see The Girl On The Train at our local Odeon when we realised that it was school half-term holiday week, which meant there would be quite a lot of The Girls In The Cinema. So we went grocery shopping instead.

When we got home, TCMrsF asked me, apropos of nothing, if I thought we were compatible. It seemed a little late to be wondering about that now; but after some thought I came to the conclusion that we are exceptionally well-matched. She ignores almost everything I say to her, and I forget much of what she says to me.

NONSENSE ON CAMPUS

I WAS disturbed to read this week that my alma mater was one of the British universities that had “actively censored speech or expression” this year, according to a survey by the current affairs website Spiked.

It is all to do with the trend to create so-called “safe spaces” on campuses, where those expressing views considered to be threatening or controversial are no longer welcome.

I think the idea that young people need to be sheltered from views they might not already agree with is dangerous nonsense. If they want to bathe in the comforting warmth of consensus, and suppress alternative opinions, they should stick to their social media ghettoes.

 

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