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…”

The Paris Diaries, Chapter 1: A Holiday, Digressed.

In writing this in retrospect, the events you are about to read are written on Welsh soil. Nevertheless, they are entirely relevant and any of you who have travelled will, on some level, relate…

I hope.

Being human and having the ability to question our existence has its perks but there comes a time when a) this questioning leads to a certain desperation and crisis of our raison d’etre on this earth, and b) our discovery that we really are not that far removed from our hairy mammal counterparts.

Like the Wilderbeasts that cross torrents to obtain better lands, we cross oceans to visit new countries and experiment with their foods (until we find a British restaurant, run by expats, who serve a Full English.) These two facts collide during The Great British Excursion which occurs annually between May – September. We have termed it “Silly Season” when suddenly the office is devoid of all life and you wonder where the fuck everyone is. In simple terms: A Holiday.

Ah, yes. A Holiday. Our holy pilgramage we make every year to flee the nine-to-five and be renewed at the altar of “Culture.” Cliff Richard dedicated a cheery jingle (during his period of obvious and severe creative drout) to this British tradition that has become an anthem for families everywhere driving to the coast and a reminder for all teenagers held captive in overheated people-carriers that their parents are fucking old.

A Holiday is something that we look forward after the excitement of Christmas has worn off, the New Year’s fireworks have burnt out, and our bank accounts are emptier than a Fuck Boy’s compliments. January, usually lasting 5 years as opposed to 5 weeks, gives us ample time to reflect what we would like to achieve for the year and we start proposing to our families and friends that we might “go somewhere nice this year” or “somewhere different.” (Right, so…Majorca instead of Mallorca, then?) We feel ballsy when April rocks around showing the first signs of Spring and proper sunshine. What with fucking ourselves with global warming, we can now expect a hot week in April and, what can only be considered an overdose of Vitamin D after the long Winter months, this teaser is enough to enrage our desire for more. We are addicts – one hit is never enough – and before we know it, we’re Googling “discount holidays,” paid for flights, committed to a hotel, and our cortisol spikes as we realise we’ve cleared ourselves out paying for that all and have nothing for spending money left over. As such, we stress the rest of the year until we actually go on A Holiday and obsessively check our savings balance which is more akin to a GoFundMe account – “Vitamin D and UV exposure needed urgently following weary battle with British Winter. Please donate.”

It always seems so far away as we get stuck into the rest of life but, before we know it, the coundown has entered single figures and you start giving less of a fuck about work. You start swanning around the office with your hands in your pockets, a faraway look in your eye, and a new smug confidence that only comes with A Holiday approaching. “It doesn’t matter what happens from here on in,” you think to yourself as you hautily respond to another email. “I am going on A Holiday. I will deal with this when I return a long, long time from now.”

Yes – the out of office is on, your fucks are gone, and so are you. Your colleagues look at you with a smile on their face, heads slightly tilted, and wish you a good time. However, if you look closely, you will see a silent screaming in their eyes that is begging you to save them from this magnolia, swivel-chaired prison. You suddenly know how Jesus felt when he fed the five thousand but, on this occasion, your colleagues must save themselves and book A Holiday of their own.

For now, you are gone. Goodbye, Britain, you miserable fuck.