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The Andrew Goff Column

We're all going on a summer HELLIDAY...

17-08-2006

Why do we do it?

Book months in advance for the holiday expectation that will cheer us through the winter months and then wham! The French air traffic controllers go on strike, or the Heathrow baggage handlers decide they can't handle any more stolen goods, or the Home Secretary wants some publicity and rings the airports with howitzers.

We, the travelling Joe Public, end up caught in the middle.

On the one hand the authorities telling everyone what to do with little or no co-ordination and, on the other, the indifference of the airlines, except to profit margins.

I've always been surprised by the speed at which an airport can be cleared of helpful staff at the onset of a problem. Apart from, that is, a legion of armed police patrols.

We're told the police are there, with their Heckler and Koch's, to ensure our security.

Don't believe a word of it.

They are there to ensure that civil unrest doesn't break out when a thousand stranded, really pissed off (and sometimes pissed), holidaymakers decide enough is enough and start dismantling, big time, the Norman Foster dream terminal.

Remember the overreaction to all those crowd scenes, the G8 summit, the Poll Tax riots, the Battle of Orgreave. Places and times where, a few anarchists apart to stir things up, basically law abiding people became rampaging mobs, goaded, in part, by over zealous police, many of whom were looking for a fight.

The Home Secretary of the time always praising the work of the lads in blue standing shoulder-to-shoulder protecting our freedoms of speech, the right to congregate and freedom of expression.

Maybe the Government knows more than we do, although they fail time and time again to demonstrate this, and are preparing us in anticipation of complete social breakdown.

Nothing to do with terrorism, but all to do with fuel shortages, water shortages, disease and, maybe, food shortages. Blimey, we've survived with terrorism long enough in this country; it has to be something else!

As the climate warms and crops fail there could billions of people trying to survive on ever decreasing resources.

Odd then that so many of us, having survived the chaos of checking in, want to leap into the rarefied air of an aircraft fuselage to inhale the stale germs floating in the air-conditioning system, then be deposited in a foreign land where our bodies are unused to coping with the local environment, spend a fortnight cooking our largest organ, the skin, and then suffer the return journey.

Odder, still, that the climate change that could cause civil disintegration is being produced by the fastest growing culprit, air travel.

So, take away air travel, halve the police force, and we save the planet and our freedoms in one fell swoop.

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