(1 October 2017)
Going into an airport always feels a bit to me like falling down the rabbit hole. Time and scale are suspended. Here there is no day and night, just climate-controlled, artificially-lit, ever-lasting airport-time. The gift shops pedalling miniature black London taxis and teddy bears in beefeater costume are the only indicators of place, amongst the homogenous designer brands and eateries. At International Departures I am “everywhere and nowhere, Baby”.
Heathrow Airport, processed 75 million people via its five terminals last year. (Thank you, Mr. F and Google). That statistic amazes me, as does (every time) the experience of standing in the terminal amongst the throng. Here I get a real sense of this transient mass. A shifting flotsam and jetsam that drifts between the continents and all these people, with their unique and individual stories, have their particular reasons for being there at this very moment.
I find myself wondering about the three women (of about my age) who met up in the restaurant, at the table adjoining ours. Their excitement was palpable, and had an air of the clandestine, as if they had escaped the demands of work and family to spend some “me time” together – and it felt like playing hooky.
The lovers, jetting off into the big blue yonder of their still-new relationship, with eyes only for each other. And the small, sleepy child, who invokes in me Trunki-envy; a suitcase you can ride on is now something I so need!
It is 0700 and we are nearing the end of this our first flight of 11 hours. The sun is coming up and we are about 3 hours out of Cape Town. I like long haul – the experience of being confined to a lumpy armchair, plied with drinks and food from dubious sources and of no nutritional value, whilst watching hours of films and telly is a latent fulfilment of my teenage fantasy, and a couple of herbal Sleepeaze tablets have delivered a surprising amount of floppy-headed dozing. Time for some early morning Poldark, methinks.