TAKING TO THE AIR (©Words and Music by Paul F. Cowlan)

A relatively new song about a very enjoyable incident of proto-perestroika way back in 1980. It just goes to show that flying with a certain Slavonic airline wasn’t necessarily only hard seats and permafrost cabin-service, even in those days.


The wind was from the north-east, the runways were bare.
It seemed like a good time to take to the air.
And the higher we flew the sky was as blue
as the eyes of the hostess with soft, golden hair;
her uniform cut in an old-fashioned style,
and wearing her purely professional smile.

A wing caught the sun and gleamed like a star,
reflecting the light from a steel samovar.
A hand against mine, serving sweet Russian wine,
white bread and butter and cheap caviar.
But I could not help noticing, once in a while,
something more than a purely professional smile.

Forty thousand feet is a fair way to fall,
and if you’ve no head for heights then don’t jump at all;
but when one heart is broken another will grow.
Lean out and let go.


Sherimetievo: blue tiles and steel,
guards and machines, and a ‘permafrost’ feel.
The air’s like a razor, the streets deep in snow.
Eleven degrees below.
Did someone pass you on the stair?
You turn and look.  There’s no-one there.
But the trace of a perfume still hangs in the air,
and you recall a smile.

Then in the grey, frozen evening beside the taxi stand
you notice her waiting, a suitcase in her hand,
and as you pass by she catches your eye;
you could almost believe that the whole thing was planned.
But only a fool would need to be told
why her eyes are so blue and her hair is so gold.

So you share a taxi, and a table,
and a night and a morning.
And when you wake up she’s beside you,
sleepy-eyed and yawning.
And the snow still falls outside your window.

At the gates of a dream are the sounds of a day,
and there’s no way to close them.
It’s dawn, and again the sky is calling.

She says goodbye, and you watch her leaving.
There’s nothing you can do.
Ticket in your hand at another turnstile,
you’re leaving too.
Turning pages, dreaming dreams and singing songs.


The wind’s still in the north-east.
The snow is everywhere.

It’s time to take to the air.