Friday Ephemera

Evil Axis

The readiness of many Guardian commentators to assume that the views of their own modest readership reflect those of the country as a whole, and perhaps all enlightened beings, has previously been noted. Some project their personal dramas onto crushing social forces like Heat magazine, and Madeleine Bunting rarely misses an opportunity to tell us how we feel about things she doesn’t like. Yesterday’s Guardian leader, titled Fear and Flying, provides another example of this phenomenon while denouncing the use of aircraft as a means of covering large distances. Flying is, apparently, an “addiction” – one which must be curbed for the sake of Mother Earth. The piece states, a tad presumptuously, 

It is easy to preach about the need to restrict air travel...

Actually, I find it quite difficult to preach about the need to restrict air travel, but clearly that’s a sign of my moral inadequacy. More upstanding, and less inhibited, Guardian readers voiced their own ecstasy of indignation:

Air travel is disgusting both in the air and on the ground.

NOBODY who flies casually can call themselves ethical. 

Of note, however, is the article’s opening claim that,

Flying has become a modern middle-class hypocrisy, a source of guilt and pleasure all at the same time.

This belief that the rest of us must, simply must, share in some kind of titillating remorse caught the eye of Mr Euginedes

Now, I'm willing to accept that I may not have a finger on the pulse of the nation, but are people really “guilty” about flying? Are there actually people outside the Guardian / Independent Axis of Hand-Wringing who hesitate at the “checkout” screen at Expedia, their pointers hovering, shaky with guilt, over the “Buy” icon, before going back and booking trains to Cornwall instead? And if so, who are they?

It would, I feel, be of tremendous public benefit to repeat the phrase “Axis of Hand-Wringing” at regular intervals in the hope that it will be imprinted on the popular consciousness. Then, given time and sufficient repetition, everyone will come to feel exactly as I do.


Visitors via Tim Blair may also be interested in a condition that afflicts quite a few Guardian regulars, Phantom Guilt Syndrome.