Friday, October 08, 2010

Lukewarm latte

The opposite of factory flying.

This time it’s serious

Back to work again and travelling a little so I’m enjoying that marvellous early morning experience known as the airport security line up and departure lounge challenge. Hundreds of people, some zombies, some eager, some obvious Indie musicians, some clearly impatient and clutching their worldly goods, designer bags, titchy laptops and small children. Meekly queued in an endless and managed line for the pointless privilege of x-ray and search and processing in order to fly from A to B. Every time I find myself in this parade I promise myself “never again”, then a few weeks later I’m back for more sub-human humiliation and boundless evidence of international distrust. Everybody is a suspect, so don’t laugh, or make eye contact or make some witty quip, the senseless humour detection system will pickup your bad and disrespectful attitude and then it’s a small room, a stainless steel table and a two way mirror for you, you may even be barred from your bargain flight. Meanwhile the real criminals and terrorists are bouncing their Range Rovers and Mercs across the airport speed bumps as they rush to pick up the mule’s dirty luggage a few yards away in international arrivals. British passport and straight on to the Green Zone anybody?

I then daydream and imagine that we’ve all snuffed it (me and the other daily 420000), so the security queue is the entrance to eternal life, heaven or hell or whatever they have on offer and will you and your atrocious hand baggage stand up to scrutiny? What about the pathetic contents of your ragged pockets and the few coins and tissues therein? Then there are your evil thoughts, actions and deeds and of course, worst of all the good that you did not do. Bugger, no hope and less faith, I have taken strong drink, smoked the odd fag and I once voted Liberal Democrat and bought a Black Sabbath album. Just as well I checked in my excess baggage of extra strong original sin and in return received a sticky bar code receipt for it, let’s hope some mix up occurs and it’s shipped to Panama or Indo-China.

A worst picture is conjured up, this is the entrance to Belsen or Auschwitz and our rucksacks and duffle bags are being scoured for any small items of value, gold, silver, jewellery. We also have to open our mouths wide as we walk through the metal detector. Then we will be separated from possessions and our families and the curtain will fall. The officious security checkers are indifferent to our fate, writing on clip boards, they are just following orders, doing the business, making sure everything is in order for the cultural vacuum we are to be sealed in - the Flybe Lounge and series of dismal shopping and coffee experiences sound tracked by pop tunes from the 90s and sheathed by images of de-constructed lipstick red models who never were real people.

By now and despite these metaphysical challenges and bad thoughts we’ve made it to the wide oasis of the shops. WH Smith have triumphed with their shop design. The newspapers are skilfully hidden from early morning eyes behind piles of tartan rubbish and sinister looking S&M straps disguised as travel aids. Once your chosen daily rag is gathered and you’ve bumped into fat young insurance brokers mulling over the chocolate bargains then it’s back out of the shop and in again via a geometrically challenging route to the tills. This fenced and winding maze holds all sorts of wonderful impulse buys and offers, mostly batteries, shiny objects with no obvious use and chewing gum in at least two flavours, essential for the frequent flyer so they can meditate on, absorb and understand the economics of selling to jaded travellers offering little resistance. Once you get to the till the kindly assistant asks “Would you care for these two bags of mints, on special at only £1.50 today?” “No thank you, I’m saving my cash and hallowed PIN number so that I can buy £50 worth of tickets at the ‘win a white Audi’ display a little further into the mall, then I’ll get my magnums of lunch time Champagne in see-through bags and a few souvenir rugby shirts on my way to Gate 20 via Wetherspoons for my all day breakfast bap and a lukewarm Costa latte, so no thank you once again.” Next time I’m headed M74, M6; maybe.

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