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Thursday, 3 May 2007

Flying home

Sat in the cramped space of our plane from Rome to Zurich – buying pace for discomfort. Whether more speed also buys time is debatable given the things you can do in the space of a ship or train, and clouds, though beautiful, are hardly an exchange for the surroundings enjoyed when going slower. Boarding a plane is also complicated, entailing boarding the right bus or train to the airport, identifying the correct terminal, finding your check-in desk, locating departure gates, while negotiating concourses, corridors, escalators, lifts, moving walkways and serial queues, while submitting to luggage x-ray, random body search, baggage restriction, showing of papers at successive checkpoints, check-in, security, immigration and departure gate and, all for good security reasons, and having to start the process hours before take off. It’s not that good a deal – but for the moment flying is often the only choice and costs less than other ways of getting around – until we start paying more for carbon. At Rome we had a text message giving us a SWIFT code for the builders’ account and the news “ALL MATERIALS PURCHASED TODAY EXCEPT MARBLE. WILL LEAVE LATE TO AVOID ACCIDENTS.” Then another at Zurich “ROOF DONE. START WALLS MONDAY. MATERIALS ARRIVE TUE. KALOS TAXHIDI.” I’ve just finished Nicholas Gage’s account of the life, and death in 1948, of his mother Eleni Gatzoyiannis from the village of Lia in the Grammos Mountains, whose peaks can be seen from 208 Democracy Street.

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Simon Baddeley