The Paris Diaries, Chapter 2: The Airport

Airports; the limbo between A Holiday and your denial of the monotonous routine that your life has inevitably become. Or maybe I’m just being cynical. It is also a breeding ground for insecurity (as if you needed any more) as suddenly everything you were sure and certain of has melted into a puddle of doubt. Does the hand luggage pass as hand luggage? Is my suitcase too heavy? Have I got the tickets? Where the fuck is my passport? Is lip balm a liquid? Have a accidently packed a machete in my suitcase? Are nail clippers a weapon? Have I been used as a mule for drugs without my knowing? Where the fuck do I check in?

Prior to arriving at the Airport, even the most logical and laid back individual becomes so controlling they make North Korea look lax. Despite Smartphones holding all the relevant information we need to cross the threshold from misery to happiness, we insist on printing off three copies of everything. Under the influence of manic paranoia, we check that our passports are still in date in lieu of us knowing that we have at least another 8 years left until it expires.

All these thoughts disguised with a poker face of “Keep Calm and Carry On” that even Churchill would be proud of. Indeed, such is the British way, that we finally understand how the band kept playing when the Titanic was monumentally fucked and going down to the bottom of the Ocean.

Chin up, chaps.

We set our alarms at 6am to be at the airport two hours before the flight despite the flight not being until 1pm. “Well, you never know,” you defensively insist when your family look at you with utter disbelief. “There could be traffic.” You drive on clear roads and do not see another car until you reach the Airport Car Park. En route and in the distance, you see a plane taking off and a warm excitement spreads through you like honey. You feel a sense of Fraternité with the strangers on board that unknown flight. “Where are you going on A Holiday?” you muse and silently smile to yourself. You see, you are kindred spirits with those in-flight passengers; you are all going on A Holiday, all seeking the same pleasures and fleeing the same daily grind.

This same sense of comradeship hits you again as you move toward the automatic doors – you see them. Those who have been on A Holiday and returned with bronzed skin, bleached hair, and still defiantly wearing their flipflops despite the temperature being a mere 10 degrees. You pity them. Their vacation is over, and you know all too well the bullshit that awaits them after today. You have only just left that world and they must return. You dare not dwell too long as this is all too stark a reminder that, one day – a long, long time away from now – you must also return.

The Airport itself is anarchy. Children crying, stray toddlers running with that obnoxious slapping of sandals (I mean…do they purposely make children’s shoes that loud on purpose so, in the event they run away from watchful parents, you can locate your absconding offspring via Echo Location?) There are families wrapping their suitcases in giant rolls of cling film, queues meandering across the foyer, someone is kicking off at the airport staff, and the staff themselves started their shift a mere three hours ago and have aged 5 years in that time. Chaos. Misery. Stress.

Well, they always say it’s darkest before the dawn…

Border control – the only place in British history where you are guilty until proven innocent. You strip yourself of everything that could possibly set off the alarm and what the fuck actually sets off the alarm is a mystery on par with the KFC recipe. Women everywhere try to sneak through the iron gates without taking their heels off (spoiler alert: women everywhere fail) and there’s always someone who has to go through a pat down because they’ve forgotten to take their keys out of their pocket. The nerves are kicking in hard; the last time we felt this way we were 6 years old and acting as a supporting artist for the school nativity play wearing an old bedsheet adorned with tinsel…

But, we pass. Silent night, Holy night – we are innocent. Jesus applauds. The angels sing. There’s nothing left for us to do now except shop at the Duty Free, buy some inadequate shite that is only appealing with Airport eyes and we would never normally buy in the real world, and wait as audience to the world’s shittest play – the Airport timetable which tells us when we are finally allowed to pass from limbo into Heaven.

Righty-oh, altogether now! “We’re all going on a Summer Holiday, no more working for a week or two…”

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