Thirty, twenty even ten years ago you could fly from London to New York in 3.5 hours. Today, in 2013, you can’t.
And that my dear Pedigree chums, is an indisputable fact.
Which brings me to what this post is about. The mighty, the magnificent, the quick, the awe inspiring Concorde.
The Concorde project was a successful joint project by the French and British started in the sixties to build a supersonic transport (SST) passenger aeroplane. Flying at Mach 2, twice the speed of sound.
The idea that the British and the French got together with a project of such historic magnitude was both terrifying and a miracle. And by jove the chaps in bowler hats smoking pipes and the fellows in berets smoking Gauloises did it... Together.
Where I lived as a child we had a typically British garden, narrow and long. For a bunch of little lads it was perfect for a game of football. (That’s soccer to our American friends, it’s a game with a ball and you play it with your feet).
We’d be kicking and chasing that ball each one thinking he was Gary Lineker and then we’d hear it. That noise, that rumble. There’s not a child in South London who didn’t recognize the sound of Concorde as it descended to land at Heathrow airport.
Someone would shout “Concorde!” and everything stopped. There we were, a bunch of little lads in our three stripe velcro Adidas trainers and plastic digital wristwatches, standing, gawping, mouths open and frozen in the green grass like garden gnomes. And we’d watch in silent wonder as that beautifully shaped plane flew past. Our young minds in a state of wonderment and admiration that today no amount of playing Angry Birds can ever hope to achieve.
This is what happened every time Concorde flew over.
Even as little nippers we knew that we were watching a thing of beauty, something truly unique.
And boy, oh boy, was it unique? This was a plane that American fighter jets had to move out of the way of! You can just imagine the radio communications:
“Concorde to Top Gun, Hello old boy, sorry to disturb you, but would you mind terribly to move over to the side just a bit and let us pass? If we put on the brakes Joan Collins is likely to spill her Champagne and that just wouldn’t do now would it? Thanks awfully, there’s a good chap. Cheerio and toodle pip.”
So what was it about Concorde that captured the imagination of all who heard of it or saw it?
Concorde was from a time when we as a society dreamed a common dream and that common dream was bigger than Donald Trump’s ego.
Today every penny spent by governments is compared to how many baby incubators that money could buy, but in those days, if the idea was ridiculous enough, big enough, outrageous enough we’d say “Yes! Let’s do it!” Take our tax money and let us revel in the glory.
It was also a time when we would do things together. A time when we’d collectively say WOW! Now we just say #MYEH. A time when we’d put on raincoats to go and support a cause, now we just press “like” on Facebook. A time when we fell in love with a great big plane none of us could afford to fly in. Now we just play Fruit Ninja on our iPads.
Doesn’t even compare does it?
This is why for the last ten years I have kept a die cast model of Concorde at my desk at work. It's a reminder of a bygone age and the reality that there is always a danger that we can move backwards instead of forwards.
Am I looking at it through rose tinted glasses? Yes I am and I like the view and these glasses are cool and I miss Concorde.