Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lane on Travel

Anthony Lane is one of my favorite writers, so I'm always thrilled when he stretches out from his usual role as film critic for The New Yorker and contributes a longer piece to the magazine. His entry in the most recent issue, about the increasing affordability of air travel in Europe, isn't one of his Hall of Fame efforts, but it's still hilarious and worth reading. Two of my favorite moments:
At the outset, Ryanair and easyJet faced derision and even -- from the established carriers -- outright hostility, but it soon became clear that this aggression was fuelled by fear. EasyJet, especially, seemed an unmissable target, with its billboards, crew uniforms, and fuselages decked out in a retina-scarring shade of orange; but (British Airways) stopped laughing when the newcomer ran a flight from London to Glasgow for twenty-nine pounds. It was not only cheaper than flying with B.A.; it was, unless you were a monk with a place to stay, cheaper than remaining in London for the weekend.

I have been a patron of British Airways for many years, and they have always pitied me enough to treat me with courtesy, but, as the flight attendant lays forth the breakfast tray, I sense an unspoken pact between provider and consumer, which neither party seems remotely willing to break.
The pact goes as follows: I will give you hundreds, or thousands, of dollars, and in return you will give me a small, tepid disk of animal muscle, the color of a water vole, at ten o'clock in the morning. I cannot begin to calibrate the extent to which I do not desire this, but I will accept it anyway, because I have nothing better to do and nowhere else to go. You and I are both aware that steak is uniquely unsuited to this occasion, being one of those foodstuffs that must be consumed either straight from the grill or not at all. Some chefs advocate that the meat should be left to rest for three minutes before serving; none would suggest that it be cooked hours or perhaps days in advance and then reheated at thirty thousand feet, an altitude at which the human taste bud appears to lose all powers of discernment.


Post a Comment

<< Home