A tale of two airports June 11, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Stansted Airport, waiting for flight to Italy. I had left a boiling Berlin. In ‘London’s’ 18th airport, people were huddled, sheltering from the blizzard that swept into the award-winning building every time someone traipsed determinedly or panickingly in.
Six identically-sized Welsh goblins hovered near me and expressed wonder at everything that happened here in the land of the big people. The ladies had Judith Chalmers hair. The men joked constantly. The man of the youngest of the three couples – presumably son+daughter-in-law/son-in-law+daughter goblins – smiled much too eagerly which made him look as if he was on a marathon smelling-sour-milk session. I worried that his legs were a bit too thin and hairless, even making concessions for the fact that he was a goblin, for someone who was probably planning, judging by that grin, to father children in the near future.
All Europe was at Stansted. Persecuted-looking young Polish women married to older English bits of rough.
Lucky bitches. Some grungy Italians played basketball with their rubbish and unstinting accuracy. They whooped in fake celebration, much to the amusement of a Geordie mum and her two children. She read them, one eagerly on either side, Roald Dahl and I wanted to sit cross-legged on the floor. Her boisterous son, his Dahl-listening done, would get up to four-year-old mischief. She curtailed each bout by counting. “If you divvun’t stop doin’ that, we won’t get on the plane. 1. 2. 3.” The counts got longer and longer as the son computed the emptiness of her threats. I left for a wander when she’d reached 99 and three quarters.
A three-member family wore the same persecuted look. Mother+son+daughter. Maybe because there was no father. Or because he’d upped and died. Or because they were on their way to Marbella to see him. No way of knowing.
A cleaning woman in a buggy refused to adjust her route along her selected floor tiles when she came across a TV crew filming someone trying to be authoritative about the airport. They shuffled twenty centimetres sideways to avoid being mowed down by a mop on wheels.
The noise of hard plastic – hard plastic handle snapping against hard plastic suitcases – as parents dropped luggage in anger at another child’s misdeed. “Hold mummy’s hand, Natalie.” Natalie looked at dad with a look that said, “Fuck off, loser.” “Wave to grandma, Natalie.” Natalie perfected her look.
Police strode around with swagger and enormous weapons. I pretended to smoke a cigarette out of my rolled-up bit of online boarding A4 and only stopped when I fainted into one set of manly arms as two boys in blue completed their butch and authoritative sprint towards me. I woke up being probed by some woman doing some survey. The cow was always attacking the vulnerable. Surveying oldies too polite to refuse. “Do you live in the UK?” asked the only woman in the UK I saw without straightened hair. “Germany, dontcha know,” I whispered before fainting with effortful choreography into policeman no. 2’s even burlier arms.
700 girls with straightened hair loomed into view wearing t-shirts that said, “Czech me out”. They were presumably back from a hen-do in Prague. (Suggest an occasion you’d dread more here.) “We didn’t have to pay to go to the toilet in Prague, did we?” one asked, heading towards our great, free-of-charge, British toilets. “Yeah, we did in one place,” answered an identical pal earnestly.
A woman with a limp so severe that she looked like a car with one flat tyre rotated past me slowly.
“Perhaps I should pop into London for the few hours,” I thought resourcefully. “Hmm, 26 quid for the ticket. Perhaps I’ll stay here and observe Europe in all its glory instead.”
Bari Airport, waiting for flight to Milan. I was given a charming proto-bollocking by the no-liquids-of-more-than-100ml man. I felt a satiable urge to tie all Italian men’s hands behind their backs to see how it would affect their speech.
All of Europe wasn’t here. Just Italians. I felt exotic and sported my British passport with pride in case folk couldn’t guess from the unironed and filthy shirt I was wearing from not having packed enough clothes.
The noise at the departure gate rose steadily with Italian men inadvertently knocking each other flying as they rocked their hands back in forth in front of themselves, which led to easy conversation. “Che belli bambini! Quanti anni hanno? Bellissimi.” The hubbub didn’t have the same frantic gossipiness it would have had if we’d been in Spain but if you were hosting a house party and you got this hum going, you’d think you’d done a good job.
Stunningly handsome twin brothers ambled in. They communicated and ignored each other with the well-worn expertise of a married couple. Or a parent and child. Or, indeed, twin brothers. Their haircuts were identical, as was their level of careful unshavedness. They both wore polo-shirts, but one was blue, the other white. The blue one had his collar turned up and sat with his back to me. The upturned collar revealed, just where a tattoo would have been on his neck if he’d been a very different type altogether, the word ‘kissing’.
Che bello. Bellissimo.