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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I can hear the planes as they roar over my house heading for the airport a dozen football pitches away. It might sound odd that, but I once managed to see where I live from the plane and that's what I noticed all the way to the airport. No one was kicking any balls on them though (the football pitches).

Only a fool would actually get on one of them, of course. (The planes, not the football pitches which are perfectly safe). I mean, it would be as dangerous as actually getting on a bus to go somewhere. You never know what might happen out there once you ventured into the real world.

The big difference is that they serve you drinks on a plane. An airhostess I once knew told me that the trick was to open the miniatures for the passenger, apparently breaking the seal. It meant you could refill them from a duty free bottle kept by the pilot's side and keep selling the same little plastic bottles at a big profit over and over again.

Once I flew first class to America on a Christmas Eve which meant you didn't have to pay for the drinks and apparently we didn't drink enough so they gave us bottles of champagne to go. It wasn't very good champagne, as I remember.

That phrase "to go" has sort of sneaked into our language, hasn't it?

The first time I saw it in America, outside some pizza place, I thought it said "Togo" and was an African word.

Then one of my wives was with me in England and asked innocently why lots of pubs were advertising the fact they sold white bread.

I don't know whether Whitbread is a major brewer anymore, but I bet they would have liked that story.

All this musing is of course related to the religious atrocity in the skies over America this week.

If Ibiza thinks it is safe from terrorism it had better think again. The Basque Separatists could crash a plane on San Antonio as easily as I could eat a sobrasada sausage, and I don't need Gary to correct that spelling.

But what happened in America is religious, not about territory and belonging somewhere. Islam cannot cope with America's superiority brought about by capitalism, rather than devotion.

Here's what happens: you make a successful country by being a melting pot of nationalities all striving for a better life.

But the religious zealots say it mustn't work and despise you when it apparently does because their message is seen to be keeping people down. It's Starbucks versus the Mosque.

Quite whether such a high-profile outrage as flying into the twin towers of the world trade centre in New York will make people think about the rights of Islam is not apparent yet and all we are hearing is that it is an affront to Western civilisation.

But the resultant world depression will affect everyone and that includes the holidaymakers who might not have jobs and therefore will not be in Ibiza next year.

This sober musing comes as I am about to get on a plane and go to see a friend getting married in Turkey to a woman he doesn't know. His father arranged it and he has dutifully agreed.

I was going to say it was at least odd in this day and age, but having arranged two marriages myself which didn't work, I suppose his devoted father has a point.

At least I won't have to worry whether the miniatures have been refilled before they get to my seat in the aisle, no doubt a terrorist's seat of choice.

They wouldn't have been drinking before they took over the planes and successfully flew them to their top of the range destinations, either.

Sinclair Newton