You have a slightly better than 50% chance of surviving a plane crash based on 2010 figures. But that’s only if you know what to do.
The single best thing you can do is climb over the seats. Ignore “the row of lights” that will “illuminate the cabin in the event of an emergency.” That’s for suckers.
You see, a sizeable percentage of people freeze up in trauma situations. They will remain frozen in their seats -or simply clog up the aisles.
Whereas you’re going to want to get to that inflatable slide the flight attendant just leapt down (did you really think she’d stay to help you?) before you asphyxiate or drown depending on where your plane came to rest.
So crawl over the top of the seats and your fellow passengers. You can apologise for your rudeness when you’re all sprinting/swimming away from the burning wreckage.
These thoughts were running through my mind this time last week as my piece-of-shit, low-cost-airline McRustbucket all but crash landed its way through hurricane-strength winds into Gatwick after my final trip to Hamburg for 2011.
Earlier in the flight, my Dutch colleague and I were talking about the Euro leader summit going on beneath us. In a few hours time, the Prime Minister would spring the trap set for us by the Élysée Palace’s very own histrionic dwarf, veto a treaty amendment and generally land a two-fisted cockpunch on already strained Anglo-Continental relations. It’s certainly not an ideal situation but the Prime Minister probably played the best hand he could with the cards dealt to him. (Rich Tories never get left holding the bag. Never. This is perhaps the one time their otherwise abhorrent trait served the country.)
But really… this is basically it for the Euro. Nothing to do with the Prime Minister’s actions but it’s officially a zombie currency. Last week finally moved it from “if” to “when”. Through the turbulence and rainclouds, the runway is coming into view. One way or another, 2012 is going to be one motherfucking bumpy landing. (Sidebar: that link should give you nightmares.)
Two days earlier
Right up until late February, I didn’t know I’d be working for a German company or that I’d discover I love their wacky ways. Hail chaos, life’s weird like that. Go to Barcelona, get a random job offer, say “yes” to random job offer because you should always say “yes” and here we are.
It’s been a steep learning curve. Perhaps the steepest part of the steep curve has been navigating German perceptions of the English. (Even though I’m Australian, I live in London which, in their eyes, makes me as English as ration books and domestic terrorism.)
One of my regular business contacts in Hamburg excels at the bizarre but extremely enjoyable game of passive aggressive oneupmanship. Two days before my flight, he takes me for a Christmas lunch at Bullerei (didn’t love it) -a restaurant run by Tim Mälzer, “Germany’s answer to Jamie Oliver” he beams. Have I heard of him?
I smile. Don’t worry, England, I’ve got this one. “Oh yeah, didn’t he train under Gennaro Contaldo in London?” The German frowns. Maybe. “Well, if he did, I’m sure it’s going to be an excellent meal.”
Seeking to regain the advantage over lunch, my German contact moves the discussion onto economic matters -definitely an easier win than culinary ones when London is in the mix.
The prices on the lunch menu are extremely reasonable “even with the Euro so strong against the Pound.”
Strong? What news is he reading?
The UK had the best gilt auction in 11 months while S&P is threatening to drop the AAA rating for core Eurozone countries if they don’t sort the periphery out.
And in fact the exchange rate has made it about 7% easier for me to do my job because I trade in the UK but report in Euros.
My mind wanders back to a previous Hamburg trip. I’m ironing my shirt in a hotel room, watching BBC World. Whatever the German equivalent of the Chancellor of The Exchequer is being grilled relentlessly (was watching Hardtalk for you BBC nerds out there) by the British journalist and is steadfastly refusing to be drawn on worst case scenarios.
I guess little of that “glass half empty” news makes it into Germany. The emphases and agendas of German media mean my business partner is living in a fantasy.
If he is living in a fantasy then so am I. It’s just that mine is more gloomy.
In my first few months of living in London, I was shocked at the “sky is falling” tone of even the quality news sources. This was a huge sea change for a reasonably sunny, glass-half-full Antipodean. But somewhere in the ensuing four years a gloomy attitude soaked into my pores.
Back at the office, I recount my realisation to my (English) boss. “Look at what they’ve been through since the War,” he says. “Communism, Reunification, recessions, new currencies. And they’re still Europe’s economic powerhouse. They don’t give a shit how bad things get, they just get on with it. And they have no appetite for doom mongering.”
No appetite? That’s probably key.
1. Go on a news diet
A major broadsheet in the UK provides “live updates” on the “Euro crisis”. Apparently the French are pissy and suggesting that the UK should lose its AAA rating before France does.
How is this enriching my life?
For that matter, what the fuck am I doing worrying about gilt auctions and AAA ratings? Stop listening! (Mandatory link.)
This is going to be a big one for me as I have spent most of my working life in news media or factual programming. I am powerfully addicted. But… like all addictions… this one needs reining in because it’s ruining my life.
There are only so many times you can hear someone tell you the sky is falling before it gets into your pores.
Does this mean being less informed? No. It just means the news business has got terribly toxic in these last twenty four months and it’s probably time to drink from a different well. (Sidebar: news audience evaporation will be a major 2012 trend. People will start only consuming what filters down to them through their social graph.)
One news session a day. Max.
2. Live in a better fantasy
Here’s the thing. Your level of belief in the reality of things like climate change or the apocalypse is pre-determined. (Ask me again about belief.)
And obviously my pre-determined interest in the apocalypse is set to ten. But whose isn’t? Every magician loves a good apocalypse. However -perhaps inevitably- an obsession with the reality of the apocalypse is a less effective starting position for those hoping to survive it.
When the whole world is ensnared in a web of horrors, and stories of doubt and despair swoop like predatory beasts, the job of a magician is to imagine something different. Armed with fierce old stories, passed on from the ancestors, the sorcerer must tell a tale that is stronger than the narratives of fear and hopelessness that compete for dominance. The value of a magician is their ability to craft a healthy narrative that sinks deep and conjures new worlds and new possibilities into fruition.
We are big fans of the practical around these parts -especially in the face of the apocalypse. But sometimes the best practical solution is the most fantastical. Sometimes the cup is what you need, but this time you need magic.
Don’t gloss over this technique. I moved countries and lived inside a book for years and it permanently changed my life for the better. We can’t see colours we don’t have names for. So invent the colours you want to see in 2012.
Living in a better fantasy is probably as close as I am going to get to participating New Year New You in time for the actual calendar year of 2012. (Although the process is 500% endorsed because it’s amazeballs.) I’ve put a lot of work into this year’s upgrade and it’s finally paying dividends. Changing tack in the middle of a star storm would put the whole ship at risk. But I do have my fingers crossed that I can pick this up in a few months time. (Chinese New Year, new you, perhaps?)
Success is a head game. Build a better fantasy and stick with it, come what may. Seems to work for the Germans.
3. Have an exit
You know what I found out last week? The Germans export more to the BRIC economies -the sole financial bright spot on the planet- than they do the France. France. As in their next door neighbour and closest ally. Britain? Less than 10%. More than half of Britain’s exports go to the EU. (Yes, it was a boring lunch.)
So… what happens if/when the Eurozone tanks? Everyone sinks and Germany just more or less sails on through, selling Audis to the Chinese middle class.
To be clear, this isn’t to suggest we all start stocking bomb shelters with tinned peaches. Just have an exit -even a hypothetical one- for whatever you’re planning to do in 2012 (especially the first half). Example: mine is probably still moving to Melbourne.
4. And finally… don’t blink
There’s really no other way to paint the highest probability scenario for 2012. This year may have been the year of the protester but next year is when we discover that there is no more road left on which to kick the can down.
And you know what?
Fine. So be it. We get the incarnations that we get. Don’t stop hustling and don’t blink.
And always remember to climb over the seats.