Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the Road

Apologies for the dearth of postings but Christmas rather got in the way. Now it's the end of the civil year and I find myself on what has become an annual missionary journey to the far flung outposts of the traddie world. Last Sunday I celebrated a private Low Mass in a discrete Chapel of a London Church with server alone in attendance. Next Sunday will be Holy Mass for the masses in a part tin construction some 300 miles north of  the nearest expresso machine.

Anyhow this 'thought for the day' came to me on board a plane. Economy class, let me assure you, but far enough back to avoid the screaming of the 'brat pack'. I'd flown this airline before and on the surface things seemed the same- the same smiles, the same well rehearsed routine of the cabin crew- but at the same time it was quite obvious that the financial woes of the last few years were making changes at a rather fundamental level. You got the impression that this airline was doing it's best to make it appear if all was fine and 'business as usual' when there really was a more fundamental change happening underfoot.

I mean all the outer 'forms' appeared to be there but they had got a bit hollow. The menu cards, once nice bi lingual souvenirs giving zoo class some glimpse of the glories at the head of the cabin, had been replaced by on screen flash messages announcing the choices of the day. Diet Coke, by the way was off the menu far too quickly. The meals themselves were reduced in size and number and the healthy vegetarian carbon neutral option (how many buzz words was that?) must have halved the catering bill. What should have been a second meal had turned into a sandwich. The cabin crew themselves disappeared for some hours leaving the passengers to self serve at the bulk heads.

I don't think I need to spell out the parallels I was drawing in my mind. The airline still does the job even if it is only with the shell of the previous service standard. I still got from point A to point B in relative safety but it's there that the happy memories end. How long, I thought to myself, can I rely on something that is becoming gradually less 'fit for purpose'. Anyhow here I am, first stop in my travels in a rather strange land ruled over by a red shrieking banshee. Rumour has it there's a wedding brewing. I better look out my copy of Dimboola and brush up on local customs and etiquette.

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