Written before, during and after a lovely holiday in Portugal this summer. Full of swearing and bile and bitterness. Best not read it if you don’t like swearing and bile and bitterness. Also not in parts, just one big unstoppable diatribe.
I am just about to send a text to my good friend Colin. I say friend, he’s actually a cock. This text will simply say ‘I fucking hate airports’. Hold on a moment, I’ll do it now before I forget. There. I am currently sitting with L in the departure lounge of Gatwick airport, North Terminal. I need a cigarette. This is a place which incubates and nurtures and fertilizes misery. There are thousands of faces and not one of them is happy. Even the ones that look slightly upbeat aren’t really happy. This is because they are only here for one reason, to catch their flight. And until that happens it’s not worth expending the energy to raise even a flicker of a smile, a nano-crease either side of the mouth. Last Christmas my new (ish) bride and I had our ‘proper’ honeymoon to Cuba. This was great but I spent a quite irrational amount of time worrying about missing our connection in Madrid on the way home. As it happened the connection in Madrid was fine, despite the airport being filled with Spanish students and the management deciding to glue the heaters on at maximum. No, this time the flying industry saved the shit/fan scenario for about 10 minutes before Gatwick when we were informed that due to a mechanic not doing their job we couldn’t land and so we were being diverted to Stanstead, where our car was most definitely not. Once there we sat on the runway for a while, because we’d only been on a fart filled plane, swapping diseases with strangers, for 16 of the last 24 hours. Then we waited for 4 years to collect our luggage and decided that we would taxi home and get the car tomorrow, because who really wants to sit on a coach round the busiest bit of the M25 on a dark Wednesday late afternoon. Only the airline industry can grasp utter shit so emphatically from the jaws of third rate, not really good enough on any level, sub-mediocrity. Thanks go also to Air Europa, Spain’s 3rd biggest airline and almost the biggest employer of a-holes in the entire world. After Thomas Cook that is. If Thomas Cook popped round for tea right now I’d flick his willy with a metal ruler.
So pissed off was I with this that I suggested to ‘the wife’ that we avoid flying entirely this summer and thought of some alternatives. Which is why we’re now sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight to Lisbon. In an aeroplane. So this is dedicated to today’s journey and all the hellish pin pricks it delivers.
- Things didn’t get off to a good start. As is my custom I had created a house checking list which I was going through in my OCD way, my wife having assured me she ‘had done upstairs and wouldn’t need to go up again’. This I swallowed with a lifetime supply of salt and continued my task until ‘the wife’ broke into a sweat as she couldn’t find her keys. Rummage, rummage, upstairs, doors open, light on etc etc. For a man close to completing an OCD list so he is even slightly secure his house is slightly secure, this presents a significant ruck in the carpet. For all the good it did me I might as well have shoved the list up my arse and set fire to it. The keys were in her handbag, downstairs. Of course they were.
- Since our last set back we decided to ditch the car and get a train from St Albans to Gatwick. I don’t know why we ALWAYS get Gatwick, the furthest London airport from us. The conniving fuckers. This is all fine and do-able I guess, though for reasons so mystical it hurts, the train meanders from St Pancras to Croydon at a glacial pace, not unlike on the telly when a strongman contender pulls a plane by a piece of rope with his teeth, quietly crapping himself with exertion.
- Boarding pass. It seems that the boarding pass is as valuable in an airport as a supply of paper bags in Tony Blair’s bedroom. Not that I’d know, of course. Until recently I had assumed you only needed your boarding pass to get through the security gate and as proof of passage should you be buying duty free fags and booze. Now it seems it’s needed for everything. I went to buy a magazine and water and low and behold ‘can I see you boarding pass please?’. Can anyone explain this? Probably some spotty airport bod can, but to me it seems insane. Do they need proof you actually exist for every single transaction? It is unlikely that anyone would go through the whole ridiculous, drawn out charade that is getting near an aeroplane just to buy a bag of Liquorice Allsorts. Maybe the 9/11 attacks would have been thwarted is some nobhead had failed to produce his boarding pass while attempting to buy a copy of Carp World. Perhaps Richard Reid was only found out when he tried to buy a can of Panda Pop and a copy of the Jihadists Chronicle. Either that or sitting on a plane, sweating profusely and trying to blow his own feet off. If we were that insane I would choose to buy a paper from a kiosk at the top of Mount Everest. Trust me, before you know it we’ll be showing our bloody boarding passes just to go to the toilet. Or to ask a simple question. Like ‘why are you all such arseholes?’. This brings us nicely to shops in general.
- Crap shops. To clear things up now, I like booze and fags. I see the purchase of booze and fags as being one of, sorry, the only, pleasant aspect of air travel. Of course it’s all changed with the EU so you can’t buy horrifically cheap cancer sticks in Europe anymore, you have to hope they’ll be cheaper where you’re going than where you live. I live in Britain where the price of a packet of cigarettes is enough to send a child to private school for a year, or to sponsor a tiger for infinity. That pleasure now eroded, what is left is a deeply vacuous duty free experience which claims to be a bargain time bonanza but which is actually a cash free for all, specifically designed to con foreign tourists into thinking they’ve got themselves a bargain. You haven’t my fellow travellers. The moment you step into Duty Free land invisible bastards rip off your trousers and stick something very big right up your bottom. The duty free hellhole at Gatwick airport is basically a military trap, carefully designed to ensure everyone who wants to catch a flight has to go through it. Which, I hope you’ll agree, is a really shitty thing to do. Once there it’s just a crap version of Las Vegas. The sights, the sounds and the smells all jostling for position to give you the most almighty fucking headache imaginable, while fingers probe your pockets, emptying them of cash before you stagger, like Bilbo Baggins from an orc orgy, blinking into the light, to see you’ve nearly missed your flight. Once again, my link is seamless and sublime.
- Endless stupidity. Put simply, everyone in an airport is your enemy. And in an airport your enemies are all breath-takingly stupid. Some people look so thoroughly, upsettingly gormless you wonder how they booked tickets, or got to the airport. Or clothed themselves. And these aren’t people with learning difficulties or syndromes or sitting somewhere on a spectrum. They’re just silly, knuckle dragging, numb headed, shit-for-brained fuck-nuts. Everywhere, thousands of them. Nowhere else in the entire world do you find such a totally bizarre blend of people, every single type of humanity (barely in some cases) in such concentrations as in an airport. Go to a football match or a concert and there is a least a shared target, an enthusiasm, an unwritten, unspoken bond which gives some small sense of belonging and by association, caring. But put me in an airport lounge and I automatically couldn’t give a tiny fuck about anyone. Not a soul. Oh, except my ‘the wife’ of course. Phew. If some silly sod covered themselves in kerosene and set themselves on fire I would piss NEXT to them before asking how long my flight might be delayed. That awful rush to get to the departure lounge (a misnomer if ever there was one) to queue for the plane, to get on the bloody plane, to nab the overhead locker space etc is insane and leaves a bad taste. I suspect most people would stuff their granny into a bag with a cobra just to edge one place closer to the front of ANY airport queue. No matter where you turn there’s always some dopey bugger in front of you. Shuffle, shuffle, stare, stare, dribble, dribble, stop in front of me like a prick and so on. I was sat briefly opposite the thickest looking family ever at one point and started contemplating suicide. Best was the moment when we passed a dimwitted looking sack of shit sitting casually eating toast as his wife rushed over shrilling ‘quick, quick the gate closes at 8.25’. The time was noted as 8.13. They had spent the last fuck knows how long grazing like a pair of fat lobotomized cows, utterly oblivious that they had flights and that flights tend to run using a timetable and that airport staff don’t come round reminding people individually that the only reason they’re even in a fucking airport is to catch a fucking, fucking plane, you stupid fucking pair of cunts. On the way back (see below for more details) I saw one guy who looked like a chimpanzee stroking himself off and another who looked a bit like the Cheshire cat. If the Cheshire cat had been spiked with rohypnol, kicked in the balls and properly twatted across the face with a baseball bat. Then had put on glasses. I’ll have to stop on this one. I can’t bear it.
- Flight magazines and the adventure guy. All airlines have their own magazines which are printed especially to look over-thumbed, greasy and matted with bacteria. These magazines are generally filled with utter shit and judging by their nightlife recommendations assume that most readers are 23 year olds with a rum dependency. I’m not. I’m 39 years old. They also feature crap interviews with people you’ve never heard of because, let’s face it, it’s a plane magazine. If they can’t be bothered to serve food only slightly more appetizing than hippo shit then why on earth would they bother interviewing anyone remotely engaging. Speaking of plane food did anyone see that episode of Heston Blumenthal’s programme where the stupid glasses wearing spunk rag tried to make airline food more appetizing. He probably succeeded, but it never went anywhere, probably because every meal would have consisted of hand reared suckling pig that need to be blowtorched alive then encased in frozen unicorn semen. Because Heston is a twat. Which is why all his ideas are rubbish and don’t go anywhere unless you literally shit money. Anyway, on this flight the interview was with James Ketchell. No, me neither. I have no doubt that this chap is a lovely bloke but his motivational approach and optimism only make me want to cry. James Ketchell has done it all apparently, but this hasn’t stopped him pushing the limits and finding new challenges because the rest of us really are a bunch of lazy fuckers and should all do more. Tomorrow I’m going to jump out of bed, fuck a hungry lion, bungee jump from a gantry on the M25 in rush hour and eat a barbed wire sandwich. All before midday. Just to feel alive. You know, to challenge myself and all that. This do-gooding dick proudly claims to be the first person on record to row the Atlantic, climb Everest and cycle round the world unaided. Hoo-fucking-ray. But that’s not enough for him is it? He is now rowing across the Indian Ocean with a bloke who’s an epileptic. Surely that’s just cheating. If you’re going to row across an ocean just row across an ocean like the rest of us, but don’t try to impress us by choosing to do it with someone who might be ever so slightly in the ‘liability’ bracket. In that case I’m going to drive an unstable lorry filled with nitro-glycerine and nails across the Sahara desert with a paranoid schizophrenic for my map reader. Or juggle hammers with Peter Sutcliffe, for Comic Relief. Or masturbate frantically in front of an irate gorilla whilst stroking his balls. For Pet Rescue. Point is – you’re sitting on a plane to spend two weeks on your arse in the sun, giving your liver a proper fucking kicking, so why would you want to be made feel guilty by some smug do-gooder. If anything these magazines should interview morbidly obese depressives or Michael Barrymore, just to make us all feel a bit better about ourselves.
- Lisbon airport. Lisbon airport is nice. It’s clean and airy and relatively simple. But it’s still a fucking airport. Which is why we had to wait 3 days for our luggage (actually more like 40 minutes but hey-ho).
Interlude. Ahhhhhhhh. Two weeks trying to sit on my arse and obliterate my internal organs. Sadly thwarted by my lovely ‘the wife’ who insisted we actually do some useful stuff and culture and romantic things etc etc etc. I tell you it’s a bloody good thing I love her because otherwise these prolonged periods together could get really awkward!
Return journey and my case exemplified, that is flying being a bit shit, as if a gift from the gods. Standing waiting like silly sods in line to board a plane that will probably never leave the fucking ground. It’s the lies and delays which hurt the most, just as much as the delays and lies. Lo and behold our Easyjet flight was delayed by 3 hours, on top of the unofficial 1 hour that we stood waiting like idiots. Fuelled up on horrifically overpriced wine, this is just an occasion for a nice cigarette but, DA-DA-DA, it’s no smoking. I should travel to dirt poor African countries more often, where smoking is compulsory. Probably. Boredom – it’s one of the main reasons nicotine and smoking were invented and a prime reason there can’t be a god. Smoking facilitates and accompanies sitting on your arse and it also helps the body and mind unwind during stressful periods (no science or research applied FYI). Therefore ALL airports should have a fucking smoking lounge. Imagine, as you do, being Walter Raleigh sitting on a ship full of rats and smelling of shit and BO for six months. He would have gone utterly mental without a sweet puff on a big pipe. Especially when those pinch points came. Like early onset scurvy. Or being eaten by a shark. Or being molested by your own crew. Who have scurvy.
I’d love to single out one airline, one airport, but they’re all deeply shit in many ways. The safest aren’t always the fastest and the fastest aren’t always the most expensive and the most expensive are for jammy twats who can afford to ejaculate great jets of money at anything they choose. Wankers. A world without flight would probably be best. Imagine the extra lives saved through not spreading ridiculous diseases. Or dropping, frozen solid from landing gear. Or through boredom waiting in a airless, lifeless shithouse with a bunch of strangers who would sooner strangle their children than give you a leg up. When the world does stop I hope I’ve got a gun license so I can blow my leaking brains out before humankind kicks the shit out of each other for the last packet of rusks.
Small footnote. At the Ale Hop bar (I think there’s a lame European joke in there) in Lisbon Airport there was a big TV showing ski jumping and as I glanced over the chap who had just landed was a German called Andreas Wank. I shall look him up when I eventually get home and if he does exist then that single second was by far and away the best moment in my history of flight. Imagine if I could have had a cigarette.
G.B.Hewitt. 28. 11. 2015 (very revised and not properly checked)