Different Fires, Different Skies


When I was a child, I was often taken to air shows by one of my uncles, a man by the name of Albert Warren who had flown Spitfires and acted as a navigator in Lancaster bombers during World War Two. In recent times, I’ve lived close to Exeter airport, so I’m sometimes graced with the Red Arrows flying low over the roof of my home, while I regularly see all manner of other aircraft from World War Two fighters and bombers to modern Typhoon fighters and huge transport planes that I can’t identify.

The sight and sound of these aircraft is always exhilarating, so it’s little surprise that the roads close to my home are thronged with sightseers watching the different aeroplanes as they take off, perform their various manouevres, then come in low across the A303 to land and disappear from view at the airport.

I mention all this purely to demonstrate that I’m familiar with the excitement and anticipation that countless thousands of people experience at air displays, so it was easy for me to understand the shock and dismay felt by everyone present at the disaster at Shoreman airport yesterday, when a Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto a busy main road adjoining the airfield. In all the reports, however, the one thing that most caught my attention was the apology issued by Superintendent Jane Derrick of the Sussex Police to those who were forced to wait at the airfield while the congestion cleared.

There’s nothing wrong with such an apology, of course, but it immediately put me in mind of the congestion in other parts of the world caused by fire raining down from the sky and of how there are no apologies issued to those fleeing such conflagrations, while little if anything is being done on an international level to ease the causes of their terrible distress. The gigantic explosions in the city of Tianjin in China a week or so ago resulted in the local populace expressing their extreme disquiet at the prospect of further devastation and loss of life, so it’s not at all surprising to me that so many of my fellow human beings are fleeing places like Syria and Iraq on account of the sheer carnage that’s systematically wrought on them, although millions of unfortunate souls in Yemen, for example, do not seem to have any place to flee to.

As I wrote in my last post about mass drownings in the Mediterranean, I don’t have the answer to the huge problems posed by the vast numbers of people escaping the horrors in their homelands and attempting to seek a better, safer life here in Europe. All I know is that if I were in their unenviable position, I’d do exactly the same thing, while praying that I’d be treated by others as a human being rather than being viewed as some kind of vermin, as some here in Britain are apt to regard those seeking sanctuary here from different fires under different skies.

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