Porkpie Hat—Travel in the Time of Isolation

“Unexpected travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Travel has always been the most exciting thing for me, the greatest of pleasures.  To get lost in a new city or take a bend in the road and come across a view of the ocean.  To wander the streets, eat in the restaurants, peruse the galleries, sit in the concert halls of distant lands: these seem like the wildest, most exhilarating of adventures.  I’m sure many others feel the same way.

Sadly, though, travel is not in the cards for most of us right now, not outwardly, anyway.  Inwardly, however, the doors are still open, the concierge is helping with the luggage, and the taxicab is waiting at the curb.  When it comes to efficient means of transportation, nothing quite beats the vessels of the imagination, almost instantaneously shifting across vast distances of time and space, the engines burning a heady, perfumed mixture of rocket fuel and high octane dreams.

Where shall we fly to over the next few weeks, as we’re hunkered down in our (hopefully) cosy isolation chambers? I hear it rains diamonds on Neptune and Saturn.  We could walk through the early morning fog that’s covering the moor, as we listen to the unnerving howling of a dog.  Alternatively, we could exchange microfilm with a sexy Russian double agent in the ornate settings of the Cold War Ballet Russe.  Or, if we choose, we could meet Cleopatra and the Black Swan on the Orient Express.

I do understand how difficult it is, this feeling of being cut off from the rest of humanity.  But perhaps there’s an opportunity for us all to experience something rare and exquisite during these still, blue hours of isolation.  Maybe it’s our chance to acquaint ourselves with the wrenching, haunting beauty of loneliness.  It can be a frightening thing, the way that it floods the chambers of the soul, and it can sometimes feel as alarming as water filling the lungs.  “Will I drown?” we wonder.  And then, when we calm ourselves down, we realize we can still breathe.  In fact, we can swim freely through the slow, honeyed silence, discovering the consolations of art, of music.  There are books on the shelf, black tea in the pot, a record on the turntable, the richness of stillness, the wonder of having time on your hands to dream, remember, create.  Human beings are explorers of the inner world, every bit as much as of the outer.

Here, from the control tower of my little column, I will endeavour, in my own humble way, to provide you with an itinerary of diversions, frivolities, and (who knows?) perhaps even the occasional thought-provoking observation of the Inner World’s ever-changing landscapes.  So, anytime you care take a flight on Porkpie Air (“We Skimp on Basic Maintenance So We Can Offer Better Frills!”) I would love to have you onboard.  Regrettably, the in-flight movies tend to be spaghetti westerns and retro Hammer horror films, and the flight attendants can get a bit snarky when they’re hungover.  Still, the prices are right, and there’s no limit to the baggage you can bring.  Also, the imaginary whiskey sours and Armagnac are always complimentary.  Does anyone happen to know how to read a map?