Ode to Friday: Armitage


“Thank you for waiting.

At this moment in time, we’d like to invite First Class passengers only to board the aircraft.

Thank you for waiting.

We now extend our invitation to Exclusive, Superior, Privilege and Excelsior members, followed by Triple, Double and Single Platinum members, followed by Gold, Silver, Bronze card members, followed by Pearl and Coral Club members.

Military personnel in uniform may also board at this time.

Thank you for waiting.

We now invite Meteorite customers, and passengers enrolled in our Rare Earth, Metals points and rewards scheme and thank you for waiting.

Accredited beautiful people may now board, plus any gentlemen carrying a copy of this month’s Cigar Aficionado magazine, plus subscribers to our Red Diamond, Black Opal or Blue Garnet schemes.

We also welcome Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald members at this time, followed by Amethyst, Onyx, Obsidian, Jet, Topaz and Quartz members.

On production of a valid receipt, travellers of elegance and style wearing designer and/or hand-tailored clothing or flaunting individual pieces of jewellery including wristwatches with a minimum purchase price of 10,000 US dollars may now board.

Also welcome at this time are passengers talking loudly to cell phone headsets about recently completed property acquisitions, share deals and aggressive takeovers, plus hedge fund managers with proven track records in the undermining of small to medium-sized ambitions.

Passengers in Loam, Chalk, Marle and Clay may also board.

Thank you for waiting.

Mediocre passengers are now invited to board, followed by passengers lacking business acumen or general leadership potential, followed by people of little or no consequence, followed by people operating at a net fiscal loss as people.

Scroungers, malingers, spongers and freeloaders may now step forward.

Those holding tickets for zones Rust, Mulch, Cardboard, Puddle and Sand might want to begin gathering their crumbs and tissues ready for boarding.

Passengers either partially or wholly dependent on welfare or kindness, please have their travel coupons validated at the quarantine desk.

Sweat, Dust, Shoddy, Scurf, Turd, Chaff, Remnant, Ash, Pus, Sludge, Clinker, Splinter and Soot, all you people are now free to board.”

~ Thank you for waiting from the collection, Paper Aeroplane, Simon Armitage (English, 1963- )



27 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Armitage

  1. Thank you for posting this. It’s so true and not just in aircraft boarding. Banking is getting to be the same way and there are now apartment buildings in NY (and probably elsewhere) where higher rent paying customers get a nice entrance and amenities plus doorman services. It’s all part of an increasing return to feudalism and creating of barriers between people based on wealth. And that is very very corrosive.


    • Wow! Feudalism. I agree it’s very corrosive. At the same time, don’t be too discouraged. It’s always been this way and always will be. It’s human being being human. Every one of us does it. If it’s not wealth, it’s always another parameter we use to feel superior: knowledge, intellect, morality, virtue, etc. I know mine is intellect: whenever I meet someone, I’m always calculating if I’m smarter than them. Ugly and true. I know plenty of people who consider themselves “transformed” or “enlightened” and then that becomes a “superior” game too.


      • Unfortunately you are largely correct. The interesting issue hinges on your statement: “It’s human being human.” Is it a human trait? Is it a defining characteristic? Is it a negative tendency that we should attempt to overcome? Or is it a motivator that ensures success? I don’t know, but I’m starting to think that how one answers that question either indicates or determines one’s fundamental ideology.


      • There’s no overcoming it. To try overcoming it is just more of it (more of wanting to be superior, more of wanting to be super-human). The path is to accept our humanity, to have compassion for ourselves and others. It is out of our smallness that our largeness emerges.


      • I keep agreeing with you while arguing because the issue is complex and very thick and it depends on what layer you are talking about. My simplistic frame of reference is that when I was travelling for work I was gold/platinum etc. on three airlines. Did I consider myself better than the schlubs lower down the hierarchy? You bet. I’d earned it in connection with the earning of valid free market income. Now that I don’t travel as much and don’t have a corporate credit card I’m somewhere down in turd class. Do I resent those sanctimonious bastards in first class boarding ahead of me? You bet. Do they deserve their treatment? Hell no. Do I deserve mine? Hell no.
        My point–yes this is human nature. But wouldn’t it be nice if we found ways to reduce/dismantle/eliminate these artificial hierarchies that only create walls rather than building bridges? This one, for example is just a marketing ploy by the airlines to build market share. But it has a validity beyond its due because of the impact is has on us.


      • And there is only one way to reduce/dismantle/eliminate these artificial hierarchies: leave them be, or to say it another way, grant them being (ie, accept them). Resisting them causes persistence.

        It’s only in getting present to, and accepting, our arrogance, our desire for superiority, that something new can enter.


      • One side of me says, yes, that is the road to happiness. But another side makes me vehemently and stridently disagree. This is but one example of artificial hierarchies that generate resentments and create yet another level of have’s and have nots (and let’s face it, a frivolous one perhaps) To let them perpetuate is to sanction inequality and de facto allocation of value to people based on artificial and unfair measures. Should we accept this in a justice system (we have) a health care system (we have) an education system (we have). Etc. Maybe I’m being unreasonable in lumping these all together but I think if we normalise small things it’s easy to normalise big things and anything that creates a we/them or ability to one group to view another group and an “other” allows the group to dehumanise the other with devastating consequences. Sic explicit rantus!


      • I’m not saying it’s OK. I’m saying it’s what’s so. I’m also not saying anything about little examples or big examples. It’s all of a piece: the desire to be superior to others. And trying to change it, overcome it, prevail over it, fix it, etc is all in the realm of resisting and will cause it to persist.


      • Got it. If you assert that it is human nature to try to be superior to others. I don’t think that. I think people try to be like others. The desire for superiority is a learned behaviour that we should try to expunge.


  2. I suppose the only remotely valid hierarchy is earned wealth. Earned wealth, that is, generared by a free market, a lawful free market, properly cognisant of the needs of those less able to earn.

    Then, of course, the first shall be last because they are very, very, busy, and the last first.


    • Every so often when speaking to an English person I feel like I’m in a Dickens novel. This is one of them, right down to the Biblical quotation. Others include the time, when I lived there, that the new British Library opened and I discovered I couldn’t go there because I was neither a student, MP or member of the Press (interesting hierarchy). When I told an English colleague it was crazy, he shrugged and said what are you going on about. Another time was when my boyfriend and I went together to open bank accounts at Natwest. As a student at Cambridge, he got a special interest rate. I got the standard rate.

      What’s to say the people in Coral Class or with $10,000 wristwatches didn’t earn their wealth? If you asked them, they’d say yes of course.


      • The test, if you will forgive my recapping, is whether the wealth is earned in a free market. A poor one, maybe, but the only remotely just one, and the one shown to survive, before and after Dickens, adapting to expectations all the time, and independent of derogatory personalising.


  3. Of course there is and always will be a cast system Easily recognizable too. When I was young and waned to shop at an upmarket store, I waited patiently until he sales person deigned to take my money. Now however I “board first”. Same me, same money. Perhaps it’s my new glasses.


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