Monday 14 June 2010

New Deighton article in Daily Mail - on the fascination of airships

Interesting article in Saturday's Daily Mail newspaper. It's a feature article by Len on the history of powered airship flights, and in particular, the Zeppelins. The reason behind it seems to be that it's part of the PR push around the Harper Collins re-releases of various books: in this case, Len Deighton's French Cooking for Men. The article, however, makes no mention of cooking.

The article is subtitled "a heartfelt lament" because, as Deighton describes, the experience of going up in an airship such as the Graf Zeppelin is one he'll never experience, their Golden Age coming to an end before the last war. It's clear this is a source of much regret; airships are a lifelong fascination for Deighton, as is the history of powered flight generally, and one which has been reflected in his writings. Not only did he course write Airshipwreck - a history of the - frequent - disasters which affected the world of airships - the machines features in some of his books, notably Winter.

With his usual grasp of detail, Deighton explores not only the history of the airship's brief mastery of the skies but the complexity of their construction and the narrow margin between commercial success and - as seen with catastrophes such as the explosion of the Hindenburg - failure. He nonetheless writes about the ongoing fascination of these gargantuan machines:
"Despite this obvious truth, for me, the Zeppelin still has a magic that aeroplanes cannot replace. The size is awesome, the shape gothic, a pointed arch twirled into a tracery of aluminium. They have gone forever. But there was a time when a generation of Germans built their cathedrals in the sky."
An unexpected little article, apropos of nothing.

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