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Better to arrive than travel dismally
BY THE time you read this I’ll have run the gauntlet of prodding, poking security types, strapped myself in to a steel Smartie tube and trusted my life to some bloke living in the Home Counties, which basically means he hasn’t a lot going for him, and shuffled my way inch by inch through immigration on the other side.
Oh, I do so hate flying. Actually, it’s not the flying so much, but all the hassle that goes with it, beginning with cramming as much stuff as possible into a bag with a weight limit so small you’re lucky if you can pack more than two pairs of knickers and a t-shirt.
There’s the snaking queue at check-in where you eye up your fellow travellers fervently hoping you don’t end up sitting next to the bloke with the sweat crescents under his arms, or the woman who appears to live in burger joint such is the extent of her apparent consumption.
Going through security – shoes off, laptops out, Ziploc bags crammed with 100ml offerings inspected – reminds me of being given the once-over by the nitty nurse in junior school.
A quick pummel and fumble – why do I always, but always get pulled over for a woman to have a feel under my bra and between my legs, especially when I ritualistically divest myself of all bangles and spangles before going near any security device? – then you’re spat out on the other side.
I was once hauled off to a little cabin where a man and a woman stood me in front of a scanner then dipped behind a screen while they blasted me with heaven knows what, presumably to see whether I’d got any small plastic bags packed with white powder in my orifices.
Random security check they called it, and I know why they do it, but even if you know very well you’re not carrying anything that could blast a plane out of the sky or earn you squillions in a drugs den, why is it that you feel furtive and guilty, and then after they’ve done their checks, vaguely grubby and somewhat personally invaded?
That ordeal over, the hanging around waiting for your flight to be called would try the patience of Job, not to mention the ability to hold on to your holiday spends because of the come-hither nature of the airside shopping malls.
And why is it, that once you board the plane, there are some passengers who insist on slowly, laboriously, taking off their cardie or jacket, getting their specs and book out of their bag plus the boiled sweets for sucking on take-off so their ears don’t hurt, fiddle about in the overhead lockers until their carry-on and duty free are positioned exactly where they want them, then sit down in a self righteous, self-satisfied “There! Sorted!” sort of way, completely oblivious to the fact that they’ve held up every other passenger in their aisle in the process, all of them wearing a rictus-bloody-well-hurry-up-because-my-oversize-carry-on-is-pulling-my-arm-sockets-out sort of grin as they wait and wait and wait to take seats they don’t really want to sit in because there’s no leg room and no comfort.
So it’s with an air of resignation that you finally buckle yourself up, knowing that you’re effectively a prisoner for several hours during which time the arrival of your in-flight meal or a trip to the Houdini-invented loo is the highlight – or maybe not – of your journey, such is the tedium of watching films you wouldn’t usually bother with at home.
You can’t help but clock watch as you count down the hours to landing so the flight seems interminably longer than you anticipated because, of course, you don’t really sleep as the bloke with the sweaty crescents under his arms is up and down like a fiddler’s elbow, furkling about in the overhead locker or traipsing to the lavatory, trampling on your feet or falling heavily into your lap because there’s no space to squeeze past you every time he does so.
Then once on the ground you wait a lifetime for doors to manual, the signal for everyone to execute a slow stampede for the exit such is the desire to shake off the effects of your seven-hour incarceration, only to swap it for another in the shape of the immigration queue where they bark at you about the purpose of your visit and rake you up and down with fathomless eyes as they assess your suitability to be audacious enough to want to spend time in their country. It’s enough to make you want to stay at home. Except this year all of the above will have been worth it.
Anything to get away from Olympic mania.