Dear Joan Armatrading

Re: Drop The Pilot

I was unnerved to hear your perky aeroplane steerer plummet encouragement this morning on Wave 104.2fm, especially in view of the fact that the taxi was well on its way to Southampton Airport for the Flybe 08:15 to Malaga.

Although I am slightly reassured by your disclosure that you are right on target and your aim is true (both of which attributes I would imagine to be vital pertaining to the effective tillering of a commercial aircraft working to a regimented external schedule), I am less comfortable with the concept of facilitating the tumble of the existing primary cockpit inhabitant, especially without the aid of a parachute. Furthermore, I suspect that acceptance of the solicitation to ''try your balloon'' as an alternative to the Embraer E-Jet that I am soon to embark is likely to prove foolhardy; I doubt, that, however state of the art your dirigible, the streamlined 553mph attaining twin GE CF34-8E turbo fan-propelled liner would have to exert itself too much, even accounting for substantial boarding and runway delays, air traffic control and baggage handlers' strikes and an interminably protracted 'stacking pattern', to place me at Sinatra's Bar in Puerto Banus prior to, even with favourable currents behind it, a heated bag. Even were time not to be an issue, Ms. Armatrading, I would repudiate standing in a windy basket in lieu of sedentary within a lukewarm fuselage under all but the most extenuating circumstances.

Somewhat more disquieting are your anthropoidal and pachyderm jockey plunge / fragrance bouqet sniff and effortless transportee importunity substitutions. As a primate lover who also harbours no antagonism towards those that straddle elephants, I will confide that I consider your haranguing insistencies that I drop the monkey in order to smell your perfume and drop the mahout in deference to your deftness as an easy rider to be imponderably affronting.

It is, of course, to be conceded that perhaps your fundamental obsecration is misconstruable and that you are entreating me to somehow foment the existing aviator's redundancy. Not only is such a dismissal beyond my jurisdiction, but I do not consider making the poor fellow jobless (especially if he is, as I am sure, a perfectly competent captain), solely on the basis that if I lose that pilot you can fly my plane, to be either ethical or in compliance with most standard employer disciplinary procedures.

In relation to your rather ostentatious proposition to take me so high that I'm never gonna wanna (sic) come down, I must again re-iterate that I am due to meet expatriate friends that I used to know from Gala Bingo at the Port for drinks as soon as is possible this afternoon once we have landed. Notwithstanding this informal appointment, my wife Jean and I have no inclination whatsoever towards circling the upper atmosphere until death; even accounting for loaded Kindles, a voluminous supply of Puzzler back-issues and an inexhaustible index of 'in-flight movies', we are in agreement that the destinationless junket is likely to prove extremely tedious, in addition to which I recall seeing a very disturbing 'item' on GMTV recently in which Dr. Hilary Jones earnestly spoke at length about deep vein thrombosis until the adverts. Jean also correctly points out that your potentially anti-gravitational indefinite orbit scenario is hampered by an altitude cap taking you 'to the limit' of 45,000 feet as restricted by the civil authorities combined with extensive refuelling encumbrances and the inescapable incongruity of ''trying you'' if we want solid ground.

I regret to advise you that based on these criteria, even combined by the confusing elemental strati referred to, you are not the one we need.

We were however heartened to observe that your confirmation that ''there's no smoke, no flame'' fully adheres to the non smoking policy as recognised by most operators since 1990.

So long as you restrict your atmospheric transporters to winged vehicles and curb the transgressive tendencies above mentioned, I propose that, acting as a ''Soul Trader'', you, yourself, and you alone establish ''Armatrading Airlines'' (advertising slogan -''Pop Up To The Stars''), a novel business venture where, together with Bruce Dickinson, Gary Numan, and, arguably, John Travolta (sadly John Denver is no longer with us) you pop stars ferry us 'ordinary members of the public' to our favourite holiday resorts!


Derek Philpott

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