How to stop worrying and love that volcano
It’s tough on the flower-growers of east Africa, the salmon-farmers of the Orkney Islands, and almost everyone in or near the airline industry. For the rest of us, the eruption of an unpronounceable volcano is a heaven-sent chance to reflect.
There are many worse fates than being a stranded tourist in a desirable location, especially when you’re having the holiday the next lot booked, as well as your own. A wedding on a far-flung beach, relayed by webcam, avoids the need to mix with all her ghastly relatives.
That business meeting you can’t get to may have been crucial, but it probably isn’t. Many faraway meetings are merely signals that you are more important than your colleagues, especially if you can swing business class, with its few hours of pampered luxury.
However well the video conference works, it just doesn’t have the same cachet as the long-distance flight. Unfortunately for the airlines, far too many of their best customers will find out that the video conference works rather well — and it saves blocking out whole days in your crowded diary.
We love spooking ourselves with disaster stories. Instead, we should consider Iceland’s volcano the way we view hurricanes, as a reminder of the limits of man’s control of the planet. The initial impact of these events may look dramatic, but months later, they are barely a blip on the economic charts. Who now remembers the scare stories about the impact of last winter’s big freeze on output?
Besides, the airline shutdown merely proves once again that man is a problem-solving animal. If we can’t leave the surface of the globe, we will find more ingenious ways of getting across it, and then bore everyone rigid with details of How We Got There Against The Odds.
Having to wait for our ship to come in will teach us patience, just as children who learn to defer gratification do better when they grow up. It may be that the Icelanders are unwittingly doing us a favor. Even if they’re not, it serves the rest of us right for being so beastly to the place.