A return to flight.

I’ve just been through Luton Airport and I loved it. Seriously, it was wonderful. Refreshing. Even adorable. Couldn’t complain, couldn’t have been happier, in an aiport sense. I don’t think I’ve had a more pleasant airport experience in my life and that counts for a lot considering this is the Luton one. A few years ago it was a crowded cattle market. A wet food souk at rush hour. A Christmas Island crab invasion for tattooed tan toppers and lager-lapping lounge hounds. A mess, basically. Sure it’s been tarted up now and that’s no bad thing, but of course the real bonus is that thanks to Covid19 there’s hardly anyone there, and few artificial spaces are quite as unintentionally tranquil as an empty airport. 


I was adamant that flying would not be on my to do list for quite some time. Certainly I didn’t want to be one of the first – guinea pigs launched into the air to make sure those rested engines were still in tip top condition. Just imagine the embarrassment in dropping from the sky faster than your excrement purely for the sake of a cheap holiday and bargain basement plane tickets. Now it’s been a few weeks I don’t feel quite so daft but neither do I feel like Einstein’s moustache. Part of me would rather give it a bit longer but then if we didn’t do this now, a flight to Belfast to see ‘The Irish’, then when would we do it? Besides, we’re doing as we’re told and giving the British economy a bloody good kick up the arse and if you’re reading this Rishi you are, as they say, very welcome.


The experience of air travel has not, because why would it, suddenly become completely devoid of stupidity. If it had I expect I wouldn’t be bothering to write this. For instance there cannot be a soul in all the land with a full set of senses that doesn’t know you must wear a face mask throughout your flying experience, and yet some people still don’t get it. The colour-by-numbers plastic doll who would probably rather have been on a ventilaor than miss out on a chance to show herself off. The pair of thick looking young buggers in the queue who clearly saw their defiance as some kind of limp dicked badge of honour. And then the frantic, distraught, and calculably daft women at security who seemed to think that walking around without a mask would somehow hasten her bag through a perspex screen, where it had been detained for one reason or another; perhaps it was that very bag she had chosen to smuggle her common sense across the border, the waxy cheeked cretin. I don’t like wearing a mask, few do, but there are much better times and places to wilfully demure.


Having fewer people around and more time to relax means you notice other litlle bits. Ask yourself more questions. Why don’t all children have to wear masks? Aren’t they just hotbeds of transmittable physical deterioration? They should wear two masks and be given a sedative for good luck. Does anyone miss Frankie and Benny’s? Will anyone ever miss Frankie and Benny’s? Who needs that slop at 8.15am anywhere in the world? In the future will airports need to be serving pints of Peroni before breakfast? Should I have indulged my curiosity and bought that copy of DNA (made that way) magazine in WHSmith just to find out where the ‘10 best gay beaches in the world’ are? I’m buggered if I know.


The airports will fill up again before you know it and they will regain their reputation for hubs of commercial avarice and an accompanying herd moronity. Our Easyjet flight attendant couldn’t tell us enough how happy she was for us to be flying with her, after all if it wasn’t for the punters she might still be furloughed and sitting at the dressing table like Baby Jane, pointlessly layering on cheap mascara with a fish slice and weeping gently, her chubby wrists quivering with self pity. She also made it clear that if we even tried to remove our face masks we would be swiftly dealt a taser shot to the genitals. We hope you enjoyed your flight, etc. I also noted how many boarders would glance up at the row number the moment they came on – you’re at the front, it’ll be row 1, of course. With masks we can now adapt to a new form of assessment whereby stupidity is measured purely by the look in someone’s eyes, and there were plenty of pairs that looked dead, refusing to allow even the simplest of  information to be processed at a reasonable speed. These people should be called to account for holding up the rest, answerable for possessing a speed of wit comparable to a tap dancing sloth. 


Still, I enjoyed the airport and I’d come again in the aftermath of another global pandemic, as this one seems to have dirtied and cleaned the air almost simultaneously. For all the above gripes it’s so nice to get of feel of what the world would be like with only 25% of the population and therefore 25% of the hassle. Even better we’re getting to see our Irish chums again and to soak up the grey, wet, broken charm of towns like Armagh. We took off in blue skies and late summer glow and we landed in an endless sheet of cloud so thick that even the pilot seemed surprised to find the runway appear beneath him. But around us revealed a lush green, bountiful of pasture and rich with rain and the guarantee of laughter to come. There is hope. There is still hope. Fancy that.


G B Hewitt. 05.08.2020

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