Aside from the people who work at them and perhaps the very frequent flyers, but for most of us, airports remain comparatively exciting places. As a transport hub at least. More exciting than train stations anyway (warmer?) and definitely more alluring than a bus terminus with its vending machines and toilets which rarely have the holy trinity: working lock, toilet paper and soap.
Airports have much more in their favour besides the globe and its most glamorous destinations all within reach. There is something energising about hanging out in a terminal with people bound for Honolulu or Tahiti even if we are bound for Leeds/Bradford. Eating and shopping features high on people’s lists of favourite things-to-do and airports usually have this down.
Airports demand punctuality which might explain why they are over represented with opportunities to purchase watches. Mostly luxury boutiques, selling watches constrained by the same time that binds us all, yet somehow at a whacking premium.
And perfumes of course, surely the greatest waste of money of all with so much shelled out for so little. Logically, a flight should be the most fragrant place we ever encounter since half the passengers have just emptied testers over their wrists and necks. And yet we can’t smell anything on a flight; proof that our money is better spent elsewhere.
Airports offer glamour too with the chance to star gaze. Celebrities I mean, not celestial. And our own entrance in to the arrival’s hall is our little glimpse of being in the spotlight with the excited hoards waiting and all eyes upon us.
Airport reunions are common and are lovely to observe. I like to estimate how long the separation has been judging by the tears, hugs and cheers. Some people bring banners and balloons which they probably all regret at some point – the disposing of at least?
And airport surprises too. I like surprising people. That time I flew to Thailand to surprise Sam and Harry for their birthday and to coincide with Tom’s wrap party on The Impossible. Maybe I was worried it might be his last?
And so to Monday morning this week at Heathrow airport to meet one of my oldest and friends off a flight from Australia. His trip has been hastily arranged and made more complicated by Covid which continues to turn our world upside down. He was scheduled to land at 7am and I would be waiting for him – but then he called with news that his flight had been brought forward. A new 5am arrival (stupid-o-clock) and he bravely (kindly) stood me down for a taxi instead and immediately I spied an opportunity for a happy surprise. Happy for me to see him and presumably for him also with a hefty taxi fare saved.
Bleary eyed, I waited in the hall, my excitement building but also my sense of ambivalence.
Some men seem to have loads of friends. Typically, the types of men who play team sports or company men with years at the same firm. Or just organised types who have the energy and ability to keep in touch and can be bothered to do so.
I am none of the above. Nikki organises my life. Holidays, dinners outs, weekends…
In fact, the only thing I am solely responsible for is being funny. Being funny in the right place, at the correct time and for the agreed number of minutes.
As such, there are lots of people in my life I am very fond of and friendly with, but I have few genuinely close friends and they all extend back to my inglorious school and college days. Four lads in particular; our bond is stronger I think for the formative life landmarks that we experienced together.
Which is why I was excited at Heathrow airport and desperately sad. My friend has made the longest journey possible – Sydney to London – because this Friday we will bury a mate we have known for over 40 years.
A happy reunion for two old school mates but underpinned by hurt. We will have a nice week ahead. Drinking in the London pubs that we used to all frequent and then on Friday we will wave him off. A lovely guy who we loved and very despondent to lose far too soon.
22.09.65 – 12.11.21
Michael was responsible for much of my output, this blog included. Many years ago, sitting in our local pub and discussing an idea tentatively titled Eclipsed, Michael said that sounds like a blog to me and this is how we’re going to do it…
Please excuse the image of Tess as the featured image. It is only being used because everything else I could find is less than 200 pixels and I am generally hopeless with technology.