Underground Airport (Excerpt of Yuki Chan in Brontë Country by Mick Jackson)

“The fundamental mistake in airport design, Yuki believes, is that everything is so goddamned white. There is altogether too much light, both natural and artificial. The notion persists for some reason, that, since the passengers are about the head skyward, a sense of space and whiteness is what’s required, to get everyone in the mood. But Yuki considers this to be a grave, grave error. In truth, the airport customer is preparing for a period of confinement, in what is essentially a fast moving tunnel. One’s pre-flight, airport-bound hours are a process of surrender. We grow quiet. We withdraw to ourselves. And no wonder. We are about to pass through a portal. What’s required, Yuki feels, is warm, dark spaces. Something womb-like. Airports should, in fact, be underground.

“Another of Yuki’s bugbears regarding modern-day airports – and one of the first things she will set about remedying once appointed – is having to travel the thirty or forty miles out to where the planes arrive/depart from the city after which the airport is named. Such a ridiculous waste of time. Yuki’s plan is to create a new generation of airports situated directly below the world’s major cities. Once the air traveller arrives at his/her destination and passes through immigration he/she will simply step into an elevator and, moments later, stride out into: the Champs-Élysées, Times Square, Sydney Harbour, or the lobby of whatever hotel they happen to be staying in.

“Sure, this will entail a good deal of digging, but Yuki believes that people are willing to rise to a challenge, particularly one with such evident benefits. She’s equally confident that there already exist large and noisy machine capable of doing the necessary earth-removal. If not, she is prepared to invent such a machine in any spare time she can conjure up between her regular job as a Leading Fashion House Designer and her weekend post creating a new generation of subterranean urban airports. She has already completed two or three rough sketches.

“Most of the Excavation will be spent creating the vast cavern necessary to house the airport. The tunnels/corridors down which the aeroplanes will fly need not necessarily be that wide. Just big enough to accommodate a plane’s typical wingspan, plus an extra metre or two. But oh, yes – quite, quite long. At the point of entry Yuki envisages a sort of slash in the earth, somewhere just beyond the city’s perimeter, As the plane approaches its destination there is bound to be a little nervousness among the passengers. But the people enjoy a tiny bit of nervousness now and again, don’t you think? The captain’s voice will come over the speakers: ‘Ladies and gentleman, we are now approaching London Scar. Please fasten your seat belts, super-tight.’ Then – just imagine – dropping, dropping. Peering out of the little windows to see the ground rising up to meet you. Children standing over their bicycles, open-mouthed. Then suddenly – POW! – the sky is gone, and the whole plane is swallowed up by Planet Earth and all you see are rocks and soil through the windows. And you are flying underground!”

Yuki Chan in Brontë Country, Mick Jackson

Ten Sorry Tales by Mick Jackson

Ten sorry tales.jpgThis book would be one of the points that browsing randomly at bookshops or libraries would constantly give you a surprise. I picked up this book by Mick Jackson for its intriguing illustrations and cover, and when I got to the first page, it comes near to the top of my list. Each tale is impressive and unforgettable. They are quirky, eccentric; and I really agree with the back cover which says “the stories are nevertheless rooted in our own, all too recognisable world”. Irs story opens with certain characters and issues in bad conditions which all of us actually had, would have, or will come across at certain points of lives; and as the plot goes on, it unexpectedly swirls into bizarre tale.

Take “Lepidoctor” for example (I was so unimaginative and gullible at one time that I thought this term was real and existed in the nineteenth century). Doesn’t that installation art at the gallery described in the tale remind me of Damien Hirst’s Butterfly? (when I first heard of this art piece some years ago I was literally flabbergasted by it, in which case I think the author unlocks every human of this latent phobia. Butterflies are so beautiful aren’t they? Not! They are evil creatures in disguise!)

Vivid blues, emerald greens and luminous turquoises all shimmered together in the two huge wings of a single vast butterfly which was so big it practically filled the whole of  one wall…The creature somehow managed to be both beautiful and monstrous at the same time. It was only as he walked towards it that he saw how that massive butterfly was actually made up of several hundred real butterflies which had been carefully arranged into something like a huge mosaic.

From then on the catastrophic and terrifying image of the butterflies which was once deep within readers’ mind transforms into a shocking and “handsclapping” scene in the end imparting the moral and Nature’s revenge. It is not a whirlwind plot yet so destructive, dark and impressive, I feel like playing an interactive role instilling some emotions whilst reading the story.

In another tale “Alien Abduction“, it challenges my regular mindset about this concept, and it implies my lack of imagination. The story again starts with a familiar circumstance – children sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher’s “tirade”. Within short intervals a student’s imagination and creativity comes into play. The plot sounds far-fetched; some proses are heartwrenching at times and somewhat cuts slightly open into readers’ heart as well as in other rales.

This book has such a personality – funny, eccentric, but dark. Illustrating ironies of the rich, limning the plights of the isolated, retired, bereaved, and the mournful lot; but their sorry conditions actually foretell satisfying and illuminating culminations concluding each of their self-seeking journey (and probably for the readers). In this case, I am sure readers with active and busy minds would certainly be entertained and kept occupied with this book; not without mentioning that deserves a re-read. A remarkable reading experience indeed and I am hopefully to read more books by this author!