Airport Closures Bring Silence For London Resident
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Whatever the suffering of would-be travelers frantic to make business meetings or eager to start a holiday, the shutdown of European air travel has some fans, namely the neighbors of major European airports. Those long-suffering residents of neighborhoods along flight paths are enjoying a respite. And one of them joins me now by phone from Isleworth in West London, she lives four miles from Heathrow Airport, Margaret Thorburn, welcome to the program.
Ms. MARGARET THORBURN: Hello there.
SIEGEL: And you should tell us first, typically, what's a day like living so close to Heathrow?
Ms. THORBURN: Well, typically, in a day, you would have an early morning call from the aircraft going over, possibly from 4:30 onwards. And that affects different people in different ways. Some people can sleep through it and others can't. And then there's a very busy period early in the morning. Typically you have planes going over every 90 seconds.
SIEGEL: Every 90 seconds.
Ms. THORBURN: Yeah.
SIEGEL: And today?
Ms. THORBURN: Today, nothing. It's been so quiet. And I'm sure other people have said this, but this particular ash cloud has a very big silver lining as far as we are concerned in West London.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIEGEL: Well, what have you done to take advantage of the rare quiet in the neighborhood of Heathrow Airport?
Ms. THORBURN: I was able to sleep an extra hour this morning, which was delightful. Fortunately I was able to do that because my schedule allowed it. And I had arrangements which took me into Central London, which of course is a noisy, bustling place, but I did find that the underground train that we needed to take was a bit quieter than usual and none of that luggage that we have to stumble over normally.
So, it was a nice, comfortable journey. And when I got back, I was able to think that coming home I would be able to look forward to peace and at a real refuge at home, instead of thinking that it's not going to be so quiet, it's not going to be totally relaxing.
SIEGEL: Now, there is a visual dimension to this. Are the sunsets unusual with that volcanic ash up in the air?
Ms. THORBURN: I have seen a sunset today that looks pretty glowing, but I don't know whether it's particularly vivid here. I think maybe it is more so in Scotland, where the ashes come down more, closer to the ground. But of course there is a big difference in the sky, which is that there are no condensation trails when you look up, which is really remarkable because they are crisscrossing the sky most of the time.
SIEGEL: Has any neighbor of yours said, I don't trust this quiet, I'd like to hear those planes up in the sky again soon?
Ms. THORBURN: I think people have found it quite eerie is the word that a friend has used. It's strange to have the quiet. But I think we'll all get used to this quiet very quickly. And I think then we'll really notice when they come back again. It'll be a bit harder to get adjusted again.
SIEGEL: Yes. I was just thinking of a famous remark by a mayor of New York City, though, who said he couldn't trust breathing air that he couldn't see, he said.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIEGEL: Margaret Thorburn, thank you very much for talking with us.
Ms. THORBURN: Thank you, Robert.
SIEGEL: Margaret Thorburn of Isleworth, West London, right near Heathrow Airport. She lives four miles from the airport. And because of the break in European air traffic, her neighborhood is suddenly quiet.
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