Flying posh

An urban myth has it that the word “posh” comes from port out, starboard home. On the old steamship journeys between England and India, to avoid the worst of the heat, wealthy passengers would book cabins on the port side going out, the starboard side coming home. What makes the notion fun is the geometric fact that to avoid the sun, you need to be on different sides for the two journeys.

A similar bit of geometry pleases me today. I’m on BA 178, a daytime flight from New York to London. I like window seats, but I hate having the sun streaming in on me, so I arranged to sit on the left side of the aircraft. Here in the morning we are heading northeast, with the morning sun to the southeast. In the afternoon we’ll be heading southeast, with the afternoon sun to the southwest. The poor lubbers on the starboard will be roasting all day long while I sit here in shady comfort, the plane slowly turning to stay between me and the sun. There‚Äôs Boston on my left now, magnificent in morning sunlight.

[10 October 2014]