19 April 2010

Iceland’s Revenge

Some unpronounceable volcano (Eyjafjallajökull) erupted in Iceland last week. That was bad enough but as it exploded under a glacier and the rock and ash spewed into the air above the north Atlantic, the cooling ice turned much of the ash and rocks into glass. This is bad news for planes apparently. Whilst modern jet engines can cope with some bits of dust, they don’t particularly like bits of glass flying through the engines and so last Thursday and for the next four or five days, virtually every flight in UK air space was grounded.

It doesn’t take much for today’s airlines just to cancel every flight and leave passengers stranded but in this case, it seems like a higher authority (and I don’t mean bits of glass at 20,000 feet) deemed that no flights should take off. Why then was the 11.30am from London Gatwick to Iceland’s Reykjavik airport simply delayed, rather than cancelled?

Anyway, there were some interesting observations during the day.

There was the conspiracy theory that Iceland had ‘organised’ this natural phenomenon to get the UK back for freezing its assets when the Icelandic banks went under and thousands of British people and probably more importantly, English councils ‘lost’ their deposits. The UK, or rather Gordon Brown, dictated that the assets could be frozen under ‘terrorist law’ which brought cries of incredulity from the global community, particularly Iceland.

Then there was the guy at Liverpool airport who, when he heard that a volcano had stopped his holiday, said there would be ‘eruptions’ at the check-in desk, completely unaware of his witty observation.

But look at the map above. Whenever there is a northern European disaster, the poor old Nordic countries get the brunt of it. Remember Chernobyl and the nuclear explosion – the elks were glowing in the dark for years afterwards and made easy pickings for night time hunters.

The kids would go to school in the virtually permanent darkness of a northern European winter and they were quite safe on the streets of Oslo and Stavanger as every motorist could see them miles away - like the elks they were glowing in the dark!

Fish from the rivers were cooked long before they saw a frying pan and the snow had an eerie glow to it. The night-time skiing industry, formed around slowly descending a slope with a flare in one hand, virtually evaporated overnight as there was no need for an organized expedition – everybody could do it – without the flares!

PS – my youngest son Tim, who was due to have ‘the holiday of a lifetime’ in Hong Kong and Bangkok has now been stuck at Heathrow Airport for three days and is now reputedly heading back to Glasgow having given up ever getting to the Far East. Keep your chin up Tim – Glasgow’s not that bad for a holiday!

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