14 May 2009


It gives me an opportunity to use the titlle of a song - by the Motors - that had a particular poignancy for me when it was current, 30 years ago. Ireally don't like airports at all, and today I am going to be experiencing three of them.
To start with, if I wanted to visit a shopping mall that's what I would do. Airports are for leaving or arriving, by air (so expect Leaving on a Jet Plane to feature as the title to a posting shortly). I suppose that, if you require everyone to add three hours to their journey time by checking in well in advance, you have to give them some form of amusement, and shopping is the favourite leisure pursuit of a large part of society (and separating people from their money is the favourite occupation of another large part of it). But anything bought in the airport acquires a completely unnecessary supplement to its carbon footprint. If it is something the traveller wants to use at the other end, that seems more justifiable, but there's so much stuff on sale here that I can't believe is needed. Well, none of it is stuff that anyone actually needs, except the food.
Even at the departure gate, there is a vending machine offering books and magazines (including what appear to be "one shot" MP3 players holding audio books). And it's offering William Boyd - "Restless", so not something I'd buy having read it years ago - and Henning Mankell.
Mercifully, the television is not on but there is a man with a mobile phone conversing with an American accent at a volume that almost makes the phone redundant, even if his interlocutor is on the other side of the Atlantic.
The result is that air travel is deprived of the romance that surrounded it when I was much younger. No doubt it's also something to do with me, but it does strike me as regrettable that the travelling experience has become so mundane. It's not a place of comings and goings: the Motors wouldn't sing about it now in the same vein - "it took my baby to another place ...": now, she's probably just in the Timberland shop or buying a computer game.

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