In a 2016 episode of Britain’s Secrets Anne Robinson featured interviews with two couples at opposite ends of the clothing spectrum. It included a few points that illustrated why I believe it would be healthier if niqab wearing women chose to stop wearing a veil.
On the one had there was a naturist couple who went about their everyday lives completely starkers. Then on the other hand there was a Muslim couple who spend their lives covered in cloth from head to toe.
Well, that’s not strictly true of course. It’s the wife who has to cover her head and her face. Hubbie doesn’t have to cover from the neck up. He just has to refrain from shaving.
Face to face communication is one of the most basic, oldest, and deepest forms of human contact. It’s a universally recognised way of expressing intent and communicating messages through facial expressions. You can’t have clear communication with someone who keeps their face covered. Niqabs and burkas hinder integration and contribute to segregation.
Even if you don’t share a common language you can exchange so much just using facial expressions. Minute muscular movements reveal the message in ways that we recognise consciously and subconsciously.
An uncovered face in the street or in a photograph can tell us so much. A veiled face tells us very little.
A veiled face says, ‘Do not look upon me. You are not worthy of looking at me. I do not want to be seen‘.
Those who suggest that women should be allowed to wear a veil wherever and whenever they want often use the argument that it’s a basic freedom of choice.
By that same logic anyone could walk around stark naked. Neither of these choices fit within the norms of British, European, and Western societies.
People are often reluctant to criticize the traditions of other cultures for fear of being labelled as racist and xenophobic. There is no greater crime these days, it seems.
Is it xenophobic to say that you find the veil an affront to open and honest communication?
Isn’t the whole idea that we’re all supposed to get along in a multicultural utopia? How can we do that if some signal their refusal to participate by putting up a physical and psychological barrier?
Those who wear a face covering feel it’s acceptable to look up on the uncovered faces of others but not for those same people to see their faces. Why?
Some niqab wearing women complain that they feel dehumanised, ignored, patronised, or overlooked.
Misogynists and xenophobes will still exist whatever you wear or don’t wear.
I suggest that women who wear the veil would receive the same respect as every other woman if they removed their face coverings and met the gazes of those within the same societies.
All it takes is a glance and a smile and all kinds of assumptions melt away. Stop wearing the veil and start speaking with your facial expressions.
For many pilots and aviation enthusiasts the idea of being able to fly in a Spitfire is probably on their bucket list if not at the top of it. With the restoration of these thoroughbred warbirds at an all time high Spitfire flights are more easily obtained than at any other time since World War II.
There are three main ways in which you can enjoy this ultimate aviation experience:
This is now possible thanks to training schemes offered by the Boultbee Academy who are based at Goodwood Airfield in West Sussex.
Boultbee offer all kinds of instruction; starting with the appreciation of flying other vintage aircraft like the Chipmunk, Tiger Moth, and Harvard. Then going moving on to lessons to in Spitfire and conversion courses for experienced pilots.
The prerequisites are that you already have a current SEP PPL and at least 1,000 hours of time logged.
They also teach formation and display flying. Prices are what you would expect for being taught by talented instructors in rare and expensive vintage aircraft. If you want to know the price then you probably can’t afford it but if money is plentiful then pop along and have a chat with them.
If you’re not looking to be taught how to fly the aircraft and simply want to enjoy the experience then there are two main options.
The aforementioned Boultbee Academy offer several Spitfire flights packages; 30 minute or longer flights and flights for two people during which the aircraft fly in formation with each other. Flights are available from Goodwood and from Exeter and start at £2,750 for 30 minutes.
Another option is the two seat Spitfire ML407 which is based at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. Email the owners for details. You may have a long wait but the sooner you get on the waiting list the sooner your name will reach the top.
If you’re based in London or the south east you could visit the historic airfield Biggin Hill in Kent. ‘Biggin on the Bump’ (because it’s on a hill) has a long history that dates back to the dawn of aviation. It was a strategically important and very busy fighter base during the Battle of Britain.
The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar provides all kinds of experiences including Spitfire pleasure flights. Other options are in the list at the end of this post.
There are plenty more opportunities for those who would like to fly alongside a Spitfire in another aircraft. There is a higher demand and therefore several companies offer this service. It is a very popular gift idea for special birthdays and other anniversaries, or just a treat for no other reason that it’s on your bucket list.
One of the more affordable options is to buy a seat on another aircraft. The Spitfire then flies alongside and in formation with your aircraft so that you can film and photography to your heart’s content.
This is an excellent opportunity to see a Spitfire in close formation and the footage and images you capture are unforgettable. They will form a lasting memory of an event that will delight you and friends for years to come.
So you see there’s an option for every budget. Make that dream come true and book the experience today!