Magazine article The Middle East

Editorial Comment: Global Warming Is a Hot Potato These Days. in Europe Just about the Only Thing All Political Parties Agree on Is That to Help Slow the Effects of Climate Change Carbon Emissions from Aviation Must Be Reduced; a Bevy of Taxes Are Currently under Review, Essentially to Make People Think Twice, or Even 10 Times, before Forking out to Board an Airplane

Magazine article The Middle East

Editorial Comment: Global Warming Is a Hot Potato These Days. in Europe Just about the Only Thing All Political Parties Agree on Is That to Help Slow the Effects of Climate Change Carbon Emissions from Aviation Must Be Reduced; a Bevy of Taxes Are Currently under Review, Essentially to Make People Think Twice, or Even 10 Times, before Forking out to Board an Airplane

Article excerpt

Although I have no wish to further pollute our planet, I have my doubts about imposing these punitive levies. Sea travel, except for the wealthy is a thing of the past; it is aviation that has opened up the world to most of us.

Back in the 1920s-30s, Britain's relationship with the Middle East was an uneasy one. British troops were stationed in various parts of the region: Transjordan, Iraq and Egypt. Dispatched to the latter as a soldier of the British Army was my Uncle Fred.

Born in 1890 in the industrial north of England and a cobbler by trade, Uncle Fred had no argument with the Arabs but, as Lord Tennyson said: "Ours is not to reason why, Ours but to do or die."

When he finally reached Cairo after a sea voyage of several weeks Uncle Fred fell in love with the bustling exotic city so far removed from anything he had ever known; with an ancient culture that rose up from the plains of Giza to cast its mystique over every nook and cranny the glorious sunshine--so very different from industrial Lancashire--touched, and with the Egyptian people who he found to be friendly, good humoured and robust. They had no reason to look favourably on young English "tommy", part of an occupying army but, according to Uncle Fred, the Egyptians treated him well.

His love affair with Egypt continued for the rest of his life although he never returned to Cairo or travelled overseas again after leaving the army. An avid reader he continued to consume, along with the works of Charles Dickens and other classics, books on ancient Egypt and its dynastic kings and queens. He would pass these stories on to me as I sat watching him repair the never ending pile of boots and shoes in his workshop at the bottom of the garden.

Sadly, Uncle Fred died when I was a student but his legacy lived on. As soon as I was earning my own money and able to buy a ticket, I travelled to Egypt where I too/ell in love with the country and its people. …

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