Thursday, 10 August 2017

Turbulence, Part 1 : The Long Haul Flight

Yesterday I found myself writing just over 7000 words unpacking events of the last 5 years. I've decided to put them up here as a series of blog posts over the next few days or so... 

Turbulence…. Part 1 The Long Haul Flight

Ever since I can remember, long haul flights between the UK to Australia have been part of my norm. (I shudder to think of my carbon footprint.) My earliest flying memories are aged five, though I’d already migrated twice before that. This was the third migration back to Western Australia via Darwin for my Uncle's wedding. The journey was long. My 6 month baby brother had whooping cough and understandably my mum was very concerned (My poor mum was on her own with us 3 on a long haul flight while my dad had work to finish and was joining us weeks later). It was back in the days of smoking on planes and I don’t think this was helping the situation. At some point during the flight my three-year old brother and I got to visit the cockpit and see the pilots flying (something that would never happen these days but this was 1982). I was even given the pilot’s hat to wear for a moment. Mostly I remember thinking that there were a lot of controls and it all looked complicated and that the pilot (or co-pilot not sure which) had a very loud voice.

Turbulence came hand in hand with every flight I made and I was always very nonchalant about it, shrugging it off as just part of the ride that I knew would soon pass. I didn’t experience severe turbulence until my early twenties. Although I’ve been subsequently assured that we were unlikely to have been in any real danger, it was frankly terrifying. The plane shuddered and bumped and buffeted, and then came the moment when we dropped and then dropped again. The second drop I counted the seconds as I felt my stomach lurch. Drinks were thrown up into the air and spilled… one, two, three, four… still dropping, five… people were shrieking in fear… six, seven… the refreshment trolley was rolling up and down the aisle. I lost count of the seconds after that, maybe there was more, maybe that was the end. It was long enough for me to think “Ok this is it, we’re going down” and my brain to replay all the previously stored info about the brace position. We’d already had drama earlier in the flight during take off. It was on of those rare times when plane wasn’t full. During take off large amounts of condensation from the air con system (I think) caused water to be poured on to passengers in unfortunate seats, who screamed, unbuckled and legged it down the aisles to vacant seats, while the stewards and stewardesses urged everyone to please stay seated and keep your seatbelts on during take off.
Turbulence continued for some time after that, though none as severe as the previous drop but eventually in due course some hours later, we landed.

Earlier this week as Bill and I and our 4yr old daughter were driving on the M25, I had the memory of that flight and the realisation that turbulent is the word I would use to describe our lives these last five years. Of course turmoil and turbulent troubles are everywhere for everyone. So much about this world seems rattled to the point of imminent collapse in these times when facing Brexit, climate change, the heated threats of the likes of Trump and Jong-un…and all the chaos and pain, the wars the unending cycle of disruptive events that lead to “entropy and atrophy” as Jaspar Fforde  once described it… but this particular turbulence that I was drawing a parallel to was more about specific circumstances of our lives.

We have been buffeted and shaken and all that we thought was secure has been thrown up in the air as we found ourselves without home and searching for work these last months. But this week has brought about circumstances that have given us a glimmer of hope that just maybe at some point soon we might be coming in to land…. (more on that later)

It’s hard to describe the process that led us to this place. For me there’s a clear moment, a clear line drawn in the sands of time that began this particular season of turbulence, (there have of course been many other turbulent seasons previously and there will be many more to follow- that’s life as they say.)


In my mind the specific moment that ushered in this season, was my fall. Falling from stage 24 weeks pregnant in rural Italy while on tour. I wrote a little about that previously, but not much. Mostly at that time I was in survival mode, trying to focus on getting through, getting the baby born… but I find that I’m ready to speak about those events more fully now. Enough time has passed to allow me to be open about the impact and the unravelling that happened as a result of that event.

4 comments:

Anthony Stevens said...

Enjoyed reading this. Waiting for the next installment.

Lobelia said...

So so sorry to hear about all that you and your family have been through this year. Thinking of you and sending love and prayers for better times ahead. xx

Bethan Nia said...

I love the way you write Rachel - and so full of wisdom and intrigue. Looking forward to reading some more. Sending the three of you lots of love during challenging times xxx

Lorna said...

I love the way you write as well Rach. You're so measured, truthful and wise. It certainly has been a turbulent five years for you, and I'm constantly waiting for a glimmer of sea on the coastline. Let's hope it emerges very soon xx