The Ritual Flier Dance

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IT isn’t unknown for us Europeans to look suspiciously at the strange customs of others, such as those of Aborigines or Inuit’s; Native Americans and various Asian or African tribal rituals.

I wonder if they scratch their heads at European peculiarities. As one Arab said; Europeans parade their women in a state of undress then get upset when others desire them.

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We expose our children to adult imagery then throw our hands up in indignation when they follow the examples set.

Some rites are truly beautiful and inspirational. Take for instance the Ritual Fire Dance of Spanish composer; Manuel De Falla. If you are not mesmerised by that orgiastic spectacle then witness instead the ‘Ritual Flier Dance’, or airport security.

Before flying, everything needed to identify each passenger’s entire, even personal history, is painstakingly entered weeks before the acolyte arrives at the airport. Most would be horrified if they knew how much is known about them.


Yet, despite being armed with everything Police National Computers can throw up, passengers, even children and grannies, will be subjected to a degrading sacrament, including subjected to various forms of undress and functional fondling.

Pawed over and pored over, one’s passport will be examined several times before one reaches their destination: The earlier examinations weren’t effective then?

These rituals are performed each time you enter an airport where you find functionaries wearing colourful costumes. Their demeanour suggests they take their performance seriously. They presumably attend the same initiation ceremonies for their zombie-like expressions suggest similar vapidity of thought.


Once admitted to the plane, priestesses run through a welcoming ceremony. Standing between aisles leading to the heaven-bound altar they demand the absolute attention of those gathered together. Waving their arms in carefully contrived motions they draw captivated acolytes into the mysteries of flight.

The throng are informed that this is a ‘non-smoking flight’. It is doubtful if anyone is old enough to remember a time when you could actually pull out a pack of cigarettes and lighting up, inhale the fumes whilst dreamily contemplating the earth’s curvature.

Mile high clubsters are frowned upon but it will be sudden and painful retribution should one repair to the loo to light up.

A life jacket is said to be a survival aid if the plane ditches. It is carefully explained how to inflate, light it and blow the whistle.

One cannot quite imagine survival when from 30,000 feet above the sea, 207,000kg of screaming burning metal and plastic plummets to its watery grave at 600km per hour. It is though a comforting thought that one’s airliner may float whilst nearby helpful ships, responding to its Mayday call, circle to invite us on board for cocktails and sympathy.

Yes, we too love our rituals and strange customs.

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