My house is right under a flight path. I live in a small enough city that technically most people live under the flight path, actually, but I mean I live UNDER it. When the big birds come in, several of our windows shake. There are lots of compensating factors: a great street, beautiful gardens, proximity to schools, golf course and the beach… and, truth be told, I’m not one of those people that sees being airport-adjacent as a downer.
In London, we lived in a little hook of the river, and we were train-adjacent, airport-adjacent, and blues pub adjacent. We were also above a fish and chip shop and the malodour of rancid deep fryer oil was, perhaps, the only criticism I can issue of that tiny little apartment.
The comings and goings of people are endlessly interesting to me. Those I can see and hear, such as conversations in cafes and pubs, or on the peak hour trains into the city. I often get to school early to sit in my car with a coffee and just observe. I think because I’m a writer I can pass this off as inspirational, rather than outright voyeurism.
I walk most mornings, and I listen to those first flights of the day clearing the tarmac and lifting into the sky and I wonder: Where are they going? My husband rather unromantically points out that there is an app I can use to actually find this out for certain, but I like to imagine. Are the passengers going home? Or going on holiday? Are they flying somewhere for a wedding? Or even a funeral? A long-awaited holiday? Or a chore – a work trip or worse, to deliver bad news. I imagine the attendants going through the safety routines, and spare a sympathetic thought for anyone on board who suffers from the same crippling flying anxiety as I do.
So many of my stories come about this way, from the kernel of an idea that lodges while I’m musing on this kind of thing. The glimpse of someone hurrying into the post office – what are they doing? Why are they rushing? Are they expecting a parcel which contains bad news? Or to pay a bill they simply don’t have the money for? And why? Who is the parcel from? Why are their finances stretched? On it goes, until my mind is so full of what I imagine to be this other person’s life that, regardless of the fact it bears little relation to the truth, I have my story.
We probably won’t ever move from this flight path. Just as well I like the shaking windows.