Friday, August 30, 2013
Live and let live
It's the Bournemouth Air Festival this weekend, well actually it started Thursday and almost immediately things weren't quite the same - traffic, noise, moaning minnies.
The festival takes place mainly over the sea, nominally between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers although the Royal Navy and Royal Marines action tends to take place in the sea and on the beach for obvious reasons really. It has grown over the last few years, both in terms of the number of events and the number of people attending, it is now believed to be the largest free event of its type in the world - a free festival where you can paddle in the sea, get shot at by marines and watch a bomber fly overhead - sounds like most of North Africa over the past couple of years.
The noise as the Red Arrows fly over our house on their way out and back is something to behold but, and this is the crucial point, it only happens twice on each day they are flying. You can see them make a huge sweep out to sea between Hengistbury Head and the Needles before turning back towards Bournemouth and then there is silence. It's an eery silence because you can still see them and you know that the piercing sound you heard for all of five seconds will be travelling out along the line of flight creating a domino effect soundwave, this is followed about ten minutes later by the smell of aviation fuel in the air. This is the closest I think I will ever get to experiencing the sound and smell of an air war - albeit one without the buildings collapsing around me and limbs disappearing in great plumes of acrid smoke.
For some people though the enjoyment of others means misery, or at least the opportunity to convey a certain discomfort to others via the letters pages of the local newspaper. The event is advertised months in advance, in fact such is the Bournemouth Echo's obsession with it, sales of the newspaper and programme and book are all neatly tied in, that announcements about next years line-up appear almost before the last ice cream wrappers have been cleared from the beach - that however does not stop the moaning. For some people it's like Guy Fawkes Night or Christmas Day or your Mum's birthday, they know when it is and yet when it happens they are surprised. Buses are full, roads are full, car parks are full and the moaning about the noise!
This is one event where the local authorities and the organisers seem to be singing from the same sheet, roads closed to traffic, extra buses and the park and ride facilities, the sort of thing that if we experienced it abroad we'd come home and ask 'Why can't we do something like that?'
All that said, it's not for me. It's impressive, fast moving, technically brilliant and the noise is something you have to experience once in your life but I'll be off into the country for a quiet drink and a pub lunch.
Posted by Paul at 4:20 PM