getting to know your plane


We air passengers are not accustomed to perceiving, or even imagining, planes in this way, as almost animate beings, with a capacity for suffering and endurance, requiring consideration and esteem, and being sensitive, almost, to gratitude and rancour. We board them and can barely distinguish between them; we know nothing of their age or their past history; we don’t even notice their names, which, in Spain at least, are chosen in such a bureaucratic, pious spirit, so lacking in poetry, adventure and imagination, that they’re hard to retain and recognize if ever we entrust ourselves to them again. I would like to ask Iberia, in this the twenty-first century, to abandon their anodyne patriotic gestures and adulatory nods to the Catholic Church – all those planes called Our Lady of the Pillar and Our Lady of Good Remedy, The City of Burgos and The City of Tarragona – and instead choose names that are more cheerful and more literary. I, for one, would feel safer and more reassured, more protected, if I knew I was flying in the The Red Eagle or The Fire Arrow or even Achilles or Emma Bovary or Falstaff or Liberty Valance or Nostromo. Perhaps reading that air hostess’s epistolary revelations had something to do with the diminution of my fear.

more from Javier Marías at Granta here.