Summers are generally accepted to be about recharging batteries, spending time on things more pleasurable than daily toil, and building up a head of steam for a new school year - or - for those of long departed from the groves of academe, the ever tense run in to year-end. I chose to spend a week on the northern coast of Mallorca (of which more later) in an attempt to get a final fix of balmy idleness before September really took hold, but strangely it was on the flight back that the most positive experience of the whole time took place.
The young studenty couple in front of me on the British Airways 737 didn't do anything particularly extraordinary. They watched a bit of a film on his slightly oversize Acer laptop then opened up a Word 2003 document on "Is there such a thing a just war?". Over summer work for a pair of undergraduates? A Masters thesis soon to be submitted? General interest in just war theory? Who knows, and really who cares? It just makes such a refreshing change from what you often see, particularly when a holiday island such as Mallorca is involved.
Summer's ending and new academic years are beginning and people are still capable of creative thought. Holidays should be life affirming but this sight more than anything else fills me with hope and enthusiasm for getting on with things.
I don't know who the people in 12 E and F on BA2709 from Palma to Gatwick on Sunday night were, nor if they're even remotely likely to read this, but they deserve my thanks.