This week I am away from School, at the annual Heads’ Conference for CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools), our national organization. A lot of flights between Victoria and Montreal.
The first flight that I can remember was from Toronto to England, for us to visit all the family my mother and father had left behind. Current students would be shocked to know that the plane was propelled with propellers. As a boy of eleven I was too excited to sleep, and stared for hours at clouds disappearing into the air intake of the turbo-prop engine. My parents did try to tell me how this process lifted us off the ground, but no explanation would suffice. Even today (and I am currently writing these words on a flight from Victoria to Montreal), while I am inured to the magic of it, and jaded by the fundamental unpleasantness of the flying necessity before real travel begins, I am still a doubtful child when it comes to the glib explanations of how it works. I remember landing in Manchester, into weather more like October than the sunny July we had left behind. We were met by cousins our age with strange accents and strange habits who gradually became known to me as humans not too different from myself – and certainly much easier to understand than adults of any country. Our differences quite soon became quaint and unimportant; our similarities became deep and real, inspiring bonds and affection. I hear our own students use similar phrases when they return from abroad.