On becoming an ash victim

25 May 2010

Photo: tonyprower.com 


I'm a victim. Eyjafjallajökull has played its tricks on me as well. Arriving in Paris after a long, hot, less than comfortable flight, I made my way through the throng to the  other terminal that deals with the short-haul flights to pick up my connection home and saw: Annulé.

Merde. There was no other word for it. An apt word, having been suffering from some peculiar Asiatic food poisoning for a couple of days.

There was an information desk, admittedly, manned by a bored and disdainful Parisienne who clearly hadn’t read her employer’s customer service policy manual. It wasn’t even worth joining the queue, so ten minutes on line and I had a booking for Eurostar, and a couple of hours to find my way to the Gare du Nord and the packed Eurostar terminal.

Six trains and six hours later I collapsed through my own front door with relief.

In the middle of Europe, it’s not easy to comprehend that a mountain spewing fire and ash so far away can have such a dramatic effect on what we these days see as an everyday mode of transport. It’s infuriating, it’s uncomfortable. It’s expensive – the airline I was due to travel with still haven’t even answered a single email about the refund they promise all their volcanic ash victim passengers.

But it’s also a little reassuring to know that nature does have the upper hand. It’s worth being reminded that when nature flexes its muscles, in spite of our iPads, dynamic braking systems and all the other toys, we puny humans still have to sit still and take notice. It’s a reminder that maybe we need to get a little more often – and when the next volcano along at Katla decides to go off pop, then we’ll be given an even more forceful reminder of nature’s power.


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