I am finally writing a post from UK soil! We were successfully repatriated last night and touched down at Manchester airport about 12.45 am. We finally got home at 3am this morning to find my lovely neighbour, Sarah, had left a carton of milk and two loaves of bread (one white, one wholemeal because she didn't know which we preferred - she's so thoughtful) on our doorstep. It was a welcome sight because we were starving and thirsty so we indulged ourselves with hot chocolate and toast at 3.30am!
On reflection, I don't quite know what to make of this volcanic ash crisis that has crippled air traffic for over a week. It seems that many people are criticising the British and other European governments for a complete overreaction to the situation by imposing a blanket ban on flights over European airspace. This obviously had knock on effects around the whole world. I don't know whether it was an overreaction or not - this type of situation has never arisen before but all I can say is that I'm glad I wasn't on the first plane to fly through the ash! I'm glad that mine and other people's safety was put before the needs of commerce and industry. No doubt over the coming days the 'ash crisis' will be debated vehemently by politicians and others and lessons will be learnt for when the second volcano on Iceland erupts!
The people who have been caught up in this event will no doubt reflect on their own experience of it and whether they handled themselves in the best way. I certainly met people who had a knee jerk reaction to the situation, who panicked a bit or got caught up with their own importance and thought their need to get home more urgent than others. We all had valid reasons for needing to get home - jobs, school, exams, family or social responsibilities but I'm not sure any of us was any more 'urgent' than anybody else.
This became apparent when we were told there were 6 standby tickets on the 5 flights that had been arranged for yesterday which the people who were not due to be repatriated until today could take (at a cost of 200 euros per seat). Only people with pressing medical needs (i.e people due to have life saving operations in the next few days) were allowed to apply. Being an important 'big wig' didn't cut the mustard!
However important we think we are, we are all just cogs in a wheel and the wheel will keep turning without us for a few days. There was no real need for people to book 2 or 3 flights at a time to increase their chances of getting home quicker (yes that happened), or to charter a private boat at a cost of £8000 (yes that happened too!). Some people went to extraordinary lengths to travel by land and sea at great personal expense - for what? It wasn't as if people didn't have access to phones or the internet to communicate with people, to re-arrange things, ask colleagues to cover, let people know what was happening, or just to work from where they were stranded if their job permitted it. In exceptional circumstances people are generally very tolerant of your absence for a few days and compensate for it. None of us is indispensible!
Perhaps if more people took up martial arts they would develop the mental strength that would enable them to cope well with a crisis like this and have a greater sense of self and less ego which clearly drove them to behave a little irrationally? It was clear from about Monday that the crisis was probably only going to last days rather than weeks.
My life and the lives of my family will no doubt get back to normal pretty quickly now, so next week I will return to my usual style of martial arts blogging. I'd like to thank everyone who had followed by blog over the last few days and left me such supportive comments. I'm sorry I didn't reply individually to most of them but I really did appreciate the things you have said.
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