If the Air Show that takes place in Sunderland every year was compared to a national disaster it would be the sordid lovechild of Hurricane Katrina and a really big avalanche. In terms of annoyance, it ranks up there as a wicklow on the index finger of your strongest hand, that you can’t quite get at because your other fingers are essentially five raw sausages flopping around like drunk women on the last bus home.
For those who have the privilege to not know, Sunderland hosts an International Air Show once a year, and bases it right on our “award winning” beach and prom area. Award winning for the amount of chip cartons and gangs of seagulls hanging around on corners, glaring at the elderly and infirm. It apparently brings millions of pounds of tourism into the area for two days and brings the city to an almost stand-still.
Again, for those of you who don’t know, Sunderland is ruled by the fact that it only has two bridges, and that major events generally cause the traffic to build up to such an extent that the fat dwelling within John McCririck’s arteries would think it claustrophobic and irritating. The city’s inability to cope with the slightest build up of traffic ranks as one of the worst things about the city (beating Flossy shops, Market Square Minions; a group of uneducated and voluntarily unemployable electorate who spend hours sitting around, shouting abuse at people who have actual places to be, and the six Greggs). It makes whole hours of travel almost impossible, and being a paramedic must be like trying to push custard through tar. It’s complete madness that a) everyone has the short sighted logic to take their cars to an area that CAN’T SUPPORT THAT AMOUNT OF PARKING, and b) no one gets the Metro. That’s what it’s there for people! It’s not just a magical dolphin rider to mystical far off places, it can also take you to places that you need to go without needing to take a car and drive around an already busy area, looking for a parking space when there won’t be any.
The Air Show is a subject that is strong in the hearts of people of Sunderland. You either love it and think that it’s the best place to show off that new maxi dress that you’ve been waiting to try out from Primarni; loathe it and think that it’s so full of annoying kids that travel in packs and families who saunter around staring dumbly at the sky, secretly hoping that a plane will jettison out of the sky and plummet into the sea (there would still be cheers from some), or c) have neither good nor angry feelings about it but feel that there could be a better way that it’s held.
It’s a well known, yet not really addressed truth in Sunderland, that the council pulls out all the stops to make sure that nothing gets in the way of a) football, b) the Summer concerts, c) people clamouring for a pound shop. Want to stand in the way of that progress and you’re decried as a self-interested Conservative and sent to live in Sunderland purgatory (read: Wilkinson’s cafe at 10 in the morning. It’s so full of oestrogen wrecked women that it’s actually closer to being populated by the woman in the bath in The Shining than voracious vixens like Joanna Lumley and Mavis Wilton from Coronation Street). There’s nothing that you can do to fight against the tide of stupid that hits the city when big events take place. Everyone seems to lose those natural inhibitions that keep us from harm like not stepping into oncoming traffic, and eating food hastily prepared by a van with three wheels by a woman who would give Barbara from League Of Gentlemen a run for her man money. But the council only ends up making it worse for people who aren’t really bothered how shit the football team is playing, or think that Coldplay are a giant welt on the face of music and ruined neon paint for imaginative sex videos provocateurs the World over. Blocking two lanes of traffic so there’s only one lane of traffic? That’s a brilliant idea. Take those thousands of pounds you get paid and rest easy, because you’ve clearly done a good job.
Unless you’re Spock, or his closet human affiliate, Sheldon Cooper, that’s sarcasm.
The inability of Sunderland Council to plan ahead and funnel traffic to different areas, or not hold big events in the city centre makes the Air Show yet another thing that they can put on the list of stupid things that they do.
I think, after almost thirty years of the Air Show, there’s only so many planes that could have been created, but year after year, thousands of people blankly stare in the sky just in case one of the planes turns into a flock of randy unicorns and that their flapping phalluses will shoot Lilt for everyone to drink. But this never happens. Its just the same planes, doing really really noisy fly pasts, to muted applause and people who only caught the end but still make the biggest deal about it. And then there’s the Red Arrows.
Admittedly, the Red Arrows are kind of cool when you’re young, but it’s only because the smoke that is jettisoned could possibly be from one of the engines and they could plummet into the side of the Seaburn Marriot hotel. It never is though. Ever. And the way that they just essentially copy the choreography career of Red Squad from Star Wars: A New Hope is insulting to all those valiant pilots who lost their lives against the Death Star. There’s usually a bomber of something in there as well.
Skirting over the fact that these planes are used to murder people in other countries is skilfully done Sun FM and the Transformers; there to distract you with loud noises and sentences made out of radio transmission. How they found “I’ll fuck you up big style and cho momma’s a skank hoe son” on Capital is still beyond me, but organisers must be choosing to demonstrate some massive part of the war machine because, as well as Sun FM and Transformers being there, there’s also The Risk.
The Risk were the ones from last year’s X Factor who weren’t really very good because they were a composite of all the groups that Tulisa wanted to get rid of, but was told not to by producers. They didn’t win, were quite arsey with anyone who interviewed them afterwards, and perhaps called Craig Colton a ‘batty boy.’ I’m never sure if that was them, or Misha B imitating them, the sneaky witch. She can also do the entire cast of Keeping Up Appearances, her Onslo is amazing. So if you want to see potentially homophobic singers who weren’t good enough to beat Little Mix, then tonight is your opportunity to. Or you could stay in and rip each nail from your foot every time that Ben Mitchell looks like a pedophile. Be considerate though and call ahead to a hospital so they can prepare the blood transfusion, ta.
The Air Show collects all the neanderthals of the city and dumps them in a two square mile area and forces them to take part in an activity that they wouldn’t do on a normal day, unless you were a plane spotter, which no one would admit to. It’s clearly just an excuse for gypsy children to practice their pickpocketing skills, like a military boarding school but for children in mismatched clothes. If you can manage to survive the onslaught of cuffed jeans and imitation Toms, and groups of people clogging up pavement space while they talk about ‘not seeing you for a while, how’ve you been, how’s your mam, last time I saw you you were in Ttonic, see you on FaceyB’, then the Air Show will probably be the best place for you to go. You’re clearly an idiot, and you deserve seeing someone’s extensions being ripped from their head because she might have looked at someone else’s boyfriend and is automatically a “pikey slag.”
Also, as people gaze up into the sky, holding their iPhones aloft so they can get a picture of the Red Arrows or whatever, it only ends up looking like this. What’s the actual point in that? Somewhere Instagram is holding as it’s sepia coloured babies close to it in fear.
So enjoy. Just don’t expect us who know what the Air Show is really about; e.coli and overpriced shite, to pick up the pieces afterwards, because we can’t actually get anywhere now that all the roads of the city are filled with souped up Peugeot 205 that sound like they’re trying to do the mating call of the Red Arrows, and it’s all your fault.