I went to bed Wednesday evening, the day before Armageddon, wondering how unlikely it would be that a cloud of volcanic ash, bursting from a volcano 1200 miles from my sleepy corner of England, could affect my totally disinterested life.

Already the airline I work for had warned of possibly disruption. But come on, it’s bloody miles away, and these things happen all the time around the World. In fact, there are dozens of volcanoes erupting as you read these words; some have been showing off for hundreds of years, others spurt and fade. So what was all the fuss about?

Thursday morning came. I staggered from the bed and peered through the curtain. Oh my goodness! The houses across the road were barely visible; a grey haze of near invisibility was obscuring the sky and cosseting the landscape. I caught my breath wondering how much of this apocalyptic ash, dense with microscopic shards of glass and rock, I had already inhaled, and what kind of lasting effect it could have on my lungs.

As it turned out, it was only a little morning mist, and had bugger all to do with volcanic ash. So, I went back to bed and switched on the tv.

Pilots were, perhaps initially, in two minds. Many of us remembered the astonishing incident in 1982 when the British Airways Jumbo nearly plunged into the Indonesian coastline after flying through volcanic ash. But then again, many of us recognised the difference between a thick plume of freshly ejaculated ash in the immediate vicinity of its volcano, and the somewhat thinner smear of barely visible haze in our own volcanically remote environment. But what to do?

Well, clearly the aviation authorities couldn’t simply ignore the arrival of volcanic ash clouds. Drawing on the years of research following the BA incident, and analysing the density and type of ash present in the atmosphere, the authorities were able to determine that there was negligible risk to jet aircraft. But just to be safe, they immediately authorised test flights by senior pilots, engineers and scientists, to collect air data and assess the impact of this diluted ash cloud on aircraft engines and systems. Such prompt actions, aided by accurate computer modelling and those years of research, allowed flights to begin operating by midday on Thursday 15th April. I was proud to be part of such a competent, rational and calm industry.

I awoke with a start when the voice of an Irish airline boss thundered through my tv. I’d dozed off again; it was still Armageddon.