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Saturday, December 09, 2006


So I was on a British Airways flight the other day... I was testing out my current theory of travel, which is that the only way to make public transport of any form tolerable is by playing The Ramones over and and over again on my iPod. I was tired and bored and half nodding off as the plane was taxiing out towards the runway for take-off... pa pa pa-pa pa-pa pa pa-pa I wanna be sedated... pa pa pa-pa pa-pa pa pa-pa I wanna be sedated... when there's a tap on my shoulder. I look over and the male airhostess (airhoster?) is saying something so I take my Shure E3C in-ears out and he's telling me that I have to turn off my iPod for take off. "Why?" I said. "Because it could interfere with the plane's systems", he told me. I looked as bored and disdainful as I possibly good and told him that if I for one moment believed that that was true, then I wanted to get off now. Actually, I didn't. He's only following some dumb memo and it's not his fault. But think about it for a moment: if the miniscule electromagnetic emmnations from my Nano are really enough to send a 767 crashing to the ground, then someone should sue Boeing for building such an unsafe vehicle. If it were even faintly true, then should British Airways want to fly anywhere where there might be any significant electromagnetic emissions (eg, Earth) they would soon find themselves running short of planes and crewmembers. It did give, however, me the best ever title for a novel: iPlot, which I intend to start working on shortly. It will be the most inventive, most plausible and only British Airways fact-checked novel debut novel in history. The plot is this: a gang of dastardly suicide terrorists make their way through security at Heathrow with not so much as a 100ml of Colgate between them. Beyond suspicion, they make their way to Dixons tax free and purchase half a dozen iPods. They hide them under an innocent girlfriend's burkha (she gets to be the tragic lead, of course, and the burkha means that you don't have to pay anyone famous for the TV adaptation that will surely follow) and get on to the plane. It powers down the runaway. At 1000 feet, just at it heaves itself in a slow circle over Hounslow, the criminal masterminds simultaneously switch on their devil machines and to the strains of (and I haven't decided on this yet: obviously it depends on the narrative flow at this point) the live version of the ponderous Emerson Lake and Palmer "Touch and Go" ("come without a warning like a UFO... you're running with the devil... it's touch and go") it corkscrews into the ground taking all souls on board with it. At this moment, the camera pans out to show that planes are falling out of the sky all across London (in fact, all across the Western world) as the MP3 Mullahs hit play on one flight after another. Can't fail. Rock, rock, Rockaway Beach... rock, rock, Rockaway Beach...

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1 comment:

Ian Osborne, Grid Man Now! said...

Strangely enough this is not an US phenomenon. How do I know this? Well on several internal flights in the US earlier this month, foks were listening to their music players with impunity, and on some flights folks were watching movies from take to landing without being asked to remove their headsets.

However, I do know from a BA pilot, that mobile phone signals can be heard through their headphones as they approach landing, that's the signalling handshake that you can hear on your radio if the phone is close enough. In addition, the level of radiation in the cabin goes up as the phone looks for a base station, leaving us all potentially cooking in a faraday cage as more and more phones are left on!