The musings of Mr Monkeysized

Volcanos and a sense of amazement by monkeysized

I am not the Unabomber, I am Mr Moneysized.

That needed saying, because there are some things the Unabomber noted down in his woodland shack that I have sympathy for. The industrial revolution? Hmmm. Good and bad, and I say that as a son of Newcastle and Middlesbrough, home of so much that fired the world in those decades.

For a start, Theodore Kaczynski was right in putting his finger on modern life as a generally bad thing. It is, but not for the reasons he thought. For Mr Unabomber it took us away from a life of typhoid and hessian underpants and having spare children melted down to make glue to make enough cash to escape the workhouse: all things he evidently pined for. For me, modern life has taken away a sense of wonderment and replaced it with fleeting novelty.

And from this, the Unabomber and modern life brings me to the volcano Eyjafjallajokull and its wreaking of havoc across the airspace of Europe. One colleague was stuck in Greece and Albania; another in Ukraine; Mrs Monkeysized had to cancel a trip to talk about frozen snack food in Holland; I myself have a visit to Berlin coming up, involving a menu that I have glimpsed with Rack of Lamb and parfait of single malt. It’s a destructive old volcano, that’s for sure.

But as we live on our boat under the flight path to Heathrow, and the weather has been blissful, it’s been a rare old experience without planes overhead. Yes, my bicycle had a sprinkling of ash covering it when I unchained it on Tuesday morning, and yes, a duvet cover drying in the sun smelled like it had been dried over a fire, but wasn’t it a fine thing to have no planes overhead to disturb the coots and the woodpecker that I heard this morning on the riverbank?

Yes, absolutely. And in that I agree with Mr Unabomber. But I am not Mr Monkeysized for nothing – it’s not about regressing back to the days of making condoms out of birchbark and having weeping pustules instead of hamsters. It’s about remembering that we’ve created a world of wonderment that outstrips us in lots of ways. One is air travel. So use that short break to remember that – you’re an over-evolved ape that happens to have been born at a point where human society has exploded to the point where blasting through the air in an aluminium tube is now considered dull.

Monkeysizing is all about remembering that Newton and Galilleo and Pepys and da Vinci would have given their eye teeth for such an experience, and certainly wouldn’t have chosen an aisle seat. And then, amazement upon amazement, you end up within hours in fantastic places with utterly different weather, smells and stomach bugs. Wow.

Be thankful for the clear skies (unless you were affected) and now think again about air travel. Amazing, isn’t it?

Don’t take it – or anything else in this strange modern life of ours – for granted.


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