Should I ever wish to feel like a completely destitute individual (which I am) newly landed on Venus, a British Airways flight to London Heathrow's Terminal Five is all that is truly required.
I say Venus because I am surrounded by these lean, healthy attractive individuals dressed expensively, but with sophisticated simplicity. What happened to the pink, sun-burned dears, bloated and over-fed on jam sponge cake and prawn cocktail crisps?
When I boarded this flight, last night in NYC's JFK airport, it wasn't so bad. There were Brits, Europeans, and Americans all mixed together in varying degrees of chicness, exhaustion, and frumpiness. I will readily admit, however, the scale tipped more towards the fashionable spectrum. This was mostly because I was in the limbo class, a section of the airplane favoured by people wealthy enough to avoid being packed like sardines, but not prepared to shell out for a full fledged bed in "club world." "Club world," incidentally, is only the business class. We unwashed masses aren't even permitted a glimpse of the lofty heights of first class. No doubt, HRH was enjoying a soak in the marble tiled jacuzzi.
What a luxury it was to stretch out, to really recline! Kirsty, bless her, facilitated my sampling of such treats mostly due to her being a doctor.
Remember when people used to dress up for a flight? I don't, but I imagine it must have been during the 60's, which has this whole tint of Camelot about it. British Airways inflight magazines always show these photos of handsome couples being served by pressed and polished staff. In this particular edition a huge joint of roast beef steamed luxuriously on a table, a lobster on the gentleman's table, a bowl of strawberries with chantilly cream gleamed like rubies on his wife's table and the captain (plausibly, it looked like him) poured them both a glass of champagne. Note how this picture is always in the back, perfectly timed to be revealed just as they set your lackluster chicken and potatoes in some non-descript gravy before you. Yes indeed, for the feast pictured, I would certainly dress up.
Would airport security wave me through the metal detectors with a gentle, "this way if you please, Madame," if I were wearing Channel and pearls?
Well they didn't bestow such treatment on those who visibly did have high taste and low pain threshold. Upon disembarking from the flight we all scuttled like pale, sleep deprived white mice through glass tubes, I'm sorry, corridors, only to come to a screeching halt at carry-on baggage screening.
Either London doesn't trust New York's approach to security (despite the fact that we all survived a 6 hour flight), or someone, somehow may have received dangerous material from someone on the same flight (despite being improperly screened).
Do security personnel receive their training on a sheep farm? They are just so adept at gently pushing me into que, nudging us into the correct stand, and when the que starts to pile up, firmly telling us to "please move along to the back." The only moment when I lose direction is when they give important information as to how to move things along more efficiently. For instance, "please don't have your hturiabfhuryu in your hand when passing through the metal detector." At this point, abject panic seizes me. What did they say? What do they want? Am I going to completely dogpile the line? I want to do the right thing, but I don't know what it is.
This part of the screening, I am sure, is secretly weeding out the more frumpy Americans. There must be a back room of Harrod's where they are spirited away to be "re-educated," as to colour coordination. You laugh, but when you're finally spat out into the shopping mecca that is Terminal 5, what the heck happened to all the sweat pants? My progress can only be due to my $100.00 jeans. Somehow I was permitted to wander aimlessly, with glassy eyes around Terminal 5.
One wanders at one's own peril, however, in Terminal 5. At every departure information board there are these islands of people with their faces turned up as though towards the sun, hoping, hungry for some information as to their next flight. They suck the unsuspecting in like jellyfish. You see them and think, "oh, maybe my flight's posted!" So you look up and maybe it's not posted at all. Or you have a fleeting stab of hope! BA105 to Istanbul departing 17:23! There it is! Next to that entry it says "Gate opened at 16:25." You look at your watch. It is 12:30. You've been here since 10:30.
There are all these Brits wandering about in neatly pressed uniforms and long, gamine legs that look good in pantyhose no matter what, and they just radiate a desire to help you, to answer any question you might have!
I have, however, only one question. Well two, really. Where is my flight to Istanbul, and when will I no longer be in transit?
Because that's where I am, right now. I am in transit and it is such a horrible state of being. Nothing is your own except what you have on your back (and even that you're sick to death of lugging around), and you must pay for everything! You're in no-man's land, on some weird planet or dimension that will only exist for a select span of hours. But to feel real, to feel empowered or at least some imitation of it, you can wander Harrod's or Bulgari, or the Nokia shop or caviar store.
Harrod's does indeed distract me. It makes me focus on my crushing poverty, my sense of dis-belonging and fills me with this aching hunger I get every time we look at Marc Jacob's handbags. I'm only capable of lovingly fingering the leathers and silks as though I will absorb a trace amount of the beauty.
Soon, though, I will be in Istanbul, where I can devour beauty, drink it in and surround myself with it.
Speaking of which, Kirsty is somewhere in this airport. I'm going to find her and, hopefully, my flight.


  1. this gives a very insightful picture of your character, very interesting.

    I don't think they have an actual re-education camp though, they probably just shunt those people to the back gate where no one will see them leaving.


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