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From the Night



In the pre-dawn of an English winter, it is among the world’s loneliest places.  Here, few birds will fly and none sing at this hour.  A
western gale, damp and cold, rattles the scrub of a featureless landscape, finding its way into the bones of the unwary traveler.  Few will travel here.   

Of a sudden, piercing lights split the darkness and within the space of a hideous screech and acrid stench a beast is upon the bare concrete ribbon; upon it and gone. So violent is its progress and so singular its purpose a mile will pass before it can be restrained.  When finally vanquished it will squat with unvented fury, compelled to be still as its cargo is disgorged.  Beyond a high fence a black coach stands waiting, the horses ready to draw it sharing that same harnessed anger, while their hooded coachman sits impassive, as if he, at least, is immune to time.

One by one,  wooden boxes are ripped from the belly of the beast by those workers of the night who must themselves be somewhere safe by sunrise. The beast, impatient, is anxious to be gone, yet for a precious minute it, too, must wait.  Then, somewhere high upon its flank its flesh is parted and from it a figure emerges – just one.  And about the figure’s head a hundred and sixty bats issue forth to find their freedom in the darkness.

The solitary figure sniffs the air, knowing his prey is near……

But those who protect this new land have been alerted to his coming and they are ready.  His first steps on fresh soil are greeted by milling people with clicks and flashing lights.  A ‘Man of Great Importance’ steps forward to shake his hand – to welcome him!  This the newcomer cannot understand:  he studies the ‘Man of Great Importance’ closely, checks his teeth, but no, there are no marks of the brotherhood upon him.  So how may he be a friend?  Is he the one who gives out the free money that is spoken of so often in his homeland?   He casts an eye about him, and begins to wonder why he came….

Luton airport may not be the best welcome for a weary traveler seeking a new home in the UK, and it is doubtful that the duty-free shop will have a supply of tzuika to offer as consolation, but it is gateway to a land which I hope will offer friendship to the reputedly thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants who, for the first time this year, are legally able to settle anywhere in the European Union.  

We British, represented as staunchly as ever by the Daily Mail newspaper, are furious about this, apparently.   Our health service will be over-stretched, Roma families will put up the crime rate, foul our streets, eat our children etc..  And, to compound all our fears, our wonderfully unbiased national media gleefully take every opportunity to remind us that flights from Romania to Britain originate at Transylvania Airport!  

It conjures up a picture, doesn’t it?  That control tower up there on the hill with a special atmosphere about it?  No other departure lounge can emulate those high walls of cold stone, and surely no other carousel in the world has so many


large wooden cases awaiting collection?

Now it may be as reported that the first Wizz Air flight for Luton, UK, out of that airport (a night flight) had just two immigrants on it, or it may not.  Two is the number we were given.  No mention was made of other passengers on that ‘plane when it landed before dawn; perhaps it was empty, perhaps not..

The truth, then.  The first of that invading horde of two,  a bemused Romanian immigrant was greeted personally by a Member of Parliament and buried under a swarm of media.  The guy looked healthy enough to me and, I hesitate to say it – really rather nice, actually.

Is an influx of immigrants a serious risk?  Well, life in a land with a grey, miserable climate whose assets are comprehensively stripped by foreign companies, whose national debt is among the highest in the western world and whose living standards, educational standards and health are among the lowest cannot be inspiring; so it is difficult to see why anyone would want to come to Britain.

We’ll see how many do!      

Red Bull – the Dark Side

I came across this item in the normal course of research.  Put yourself, if you will, in the place of a nervous air passenger with a window seat on this flight:

On 24 September 1994, TAROM Flight 381, an Airbus A310 (YR-LCA) flying from Bucharest to Paris Orly, went into a sudden and un-commanded nose-up position and stalled. The crew attempted to countermand the plane’s flight control system but were unable to get the nose down while remaining on course. Witnesses saw the plane climb to a tail stand, then bank sharply left,

Airbus 310 image, courtesy of Wikipedia. NOT the ‘plane described in this article!

 then right, then fall into a steep dive. Only when the dive produced additional speed was the crew able to recover steady flight. An investigation found that an overshoot of flap placard speed during approach, incorrectly commanded by the captain, caused a mode transition to flight level change. The auto-throttles increased power and trim went full nose-up as a result. The crew attempt at commanding the nose-down elevator could not counteract effect of stabilizer nose-up trim, and the resulting dive brought the plane from a height of 4,100 ft at the time of the stall to 800 ft when the crew was able to recover command. The plane landed safely after a second approach. There were 186 people aboard.

I would so like to meet with one of those 186 passengers, just to find out if they have ever flown since……