I am on a four-stage plane journey, from Vienna to Sharm-el-Sheikh and back via Istanbul. On the first leg, from Vienna to Istanbul, my Turkish Airlines flight features seat-back video and I choose recent blockbuster “Black Panther”.
Unfortunately the crew make many announcements in numerous languages, interrupting the movie. So I miss the end of the film, which I am hoping will include astonishing plot twists but fear will mostly be superheroes slugging each other (a problem with all superhero movies: if two superheroes have a superhero fist-fight, how do you make it interesting? No-one knows).
On the subsequent three legs, Istanbul-Sharm, Sharm-Istanbul and Istanbul-Vienna, the Turkish Airlines aircraft are older, without seat-back video. So I still haven’t seen the end of “Black Panther”. Should I make an effort to catch the last 20 minutes? What do you think? No spoilers please!
But good news is coming. On the communal screens on the older planes, the airline shows episodes of Fish Tank Kings. This is a reality TV show in which… people build fish tanks (National Geographic: “Extreme fish tanks have become the ultimate status symbol and the people who are on the cutting edge are in high demand”).
This seems even less interesting than superhero fist-fights.
Result: instead of watching a movie, I read books: Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P G Wodehouse and Lady Anna by Anthony Trollope.
This brings to eight the number of books read on my holiday in Sharm-el-Sheikh, a 15-day period when I make a conscious effort to detox from my phone; to swim in the ocean; and do four hours of writing, daily.
What conclusions can we draw from all this?
My first conclusion is that beach holidays, and flights with poor in-flight entertainment, are great environments to increase your attention span. Four hours a day of writing is not bad when you spend the rest of the day swimming on some of the world’s best reefs, including meeting this fellow who I believe is a green sea turtle:
My second conclusion is that Trollope is, as I have blogged before, one of the world’s great novelists. Lady Anna is, perhaps, not one of his best novels but is nonetheless full of wit and wisdom and addresses issues of power and feminism which remain relevant in these #MeToo days. I shall blog about Lady Anna shortly.
My third thought is to recall the excellence of P G Wodehouse. More blogs coming up on him.
Finally, everything pales into insignificance when you confront a giant sea turtle in the water. This individual seemed unconcerned by having a couple of snorkelers nearby. When he (or she) surfaced, one or two metres away, the head seemed primaeval, like a living dinosaur. Breathtaking.
For a selection of other photos from Sharm el Sheikh, see my Facebook account. A wonderful two weeks – even without seeing the end of “Black Panther”.
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