Bards in Business Class?

The foiled plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights between the US and UK has led to some understandable restrictions on cabin luggage. Seems we’ll need to adjust long-term to traveling without carry-on items – including books and magazines, let alone laptops or iPods. We’re still removing our shoes five years after the Shoe Bomber’s escapades.

While not wishing to trivialize the seriousness of the threat to International travel, there is a potential bright side to flying this offers.

Not since the 15th Century and Caxton’s invention of the printing press have the educated public had to undertake long journeys without so much as a book to distract, educate and entertain.

This is an incredible opportunity to enjoy the storytellers art.


In olden days people would gather together and pass the long winter nights around the fire, safe from the icy wind and rain, and listen to epics such as The Odyssey and Beowulf being told and re-told by bards and storytellers. Fairy tales, legends, parables — pre-literate tribes enjoyed a well-told tale.

Of course, in the modern world, no tribe or group of people has the time to sit for four, five or more hours free to distraction, able to give their undivided attention to a masterful storyteller weave the magic of the spoken word. Until now.

What better amenity for the more creative of the long-haul carriers departing Heathrow or JFK to offer than an on-board bard?

The bard would occupy a business-class seat (natch) and offer the tribe of frequent fliers in the immediate vicinity the first-hand experience of seeing and hearing an epic recited. Other passengers could listen via headset. With microphone in hand the bard would wander the aisles in the rear of the plane involving the hoi-polloi in the unfolding tale.

This is an incredible untapped market opportunity for those of us who make our living with the spoken word to expand our captive audiences.

Modern epics created to entertain at 36,000 feet would be recited. Memorized tales of adventures in travel; corporate life; loves won and lost; victories and defeats. It’s all in Homer and those fellows. We just need updated versions to entertain and educate passengers traveling high above the wine-dark seas.

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