Saturday, April 02, 2016

Live From Leeds

Keep calm and carry on. That's what the Ministry of Information will tell you, if you lived in England during World War Two. While Hitler's Luftwaffe bombed London night after night, and German V2 rockets screamed overhead, the British people kept their resolve and their stiff collective upper lip. This was, after all, what was left of an empire that once spanned the globe. They weren't going to run and hide from a vegetarian painter with visions of world domination. They had negotiated their own non-aggression pact with Germany just a few years before, so they obviously had a sense of humor. Combine that with all that calmness, and you have a pretty wicked sense of the absurd.

Which may explain why twenty-six year-old Ben Innes took the time during Tuesday's standoff on an Egyptian airliner to snap a photo of himself with the hijacker. "I'm not sure why I did it -- I just threw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity. I figured if his bomb was real I'd have nothing to lose anyway, so took a chance to get closer and look at it." The bomb in question was strapped to a belt around fifty-eight year-old Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa. The picture was not, as initially reported, a selfie. Instead, it was taken with the aid of a stewardess who was standing nearby in what must surely be one of the most impressive bits of customer service imaginable. 
Ben is a rugby player, which may explain some of the pugnacity. One admirer of Mister Innes appreciated his "indefatigableness," which may be the Queen's English for "nitwit." Some might call it "cheeky." Others might say he was "barmy." Whatever the descriptor, it was apparent from the evidence that he wasn't trying to be a hero as much as he was trying to point out the absurdity of the situation. Fifty-five hostages on board an EgyptianAir A320 could have been blown to bits by such an affront, but since it all ended happily with their release and the hijacker being taken into custody. Rather than being totally snookered. 
And so, do we admire this young Brit and his ability to stay calm amidst the chaos of this modern world? Or should we count this as a lucky bit of social media that could have been a sad relic of something much worse? For now, I will take it as the tiniest of victories in the war against terror. Countless thousands to one. One health and safety adjuster from Leeds. 

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