Airport snobbery, a column…5th June 2019
Just taking a break and posting Sunday’s column between episodes of Years and Years because Jeeeeeesus it’s intense. Brilliant but intense. And very unsettling. BBC, four episodes have been released so far, two to go. It’s futuristic and written by Russel T Davies (Doctor Who) which, as I have a sci-fi aversion, initially made me wrinkle my nose. But my sis insisted I watch the first two over the weekend and if you have a gap in your television-watching schedule you should too. It’s only slightly futuristic anyway, not too Running Man.
Am watching quite a lot of telly this week since I had a [v minor] operation yesterday so am lolling about at home on the sofa for the next few days. Started Dead To Me (Netflix) which is about a woman whose husband’s just been killed in a hit-and-run and funnier than it sounds. Honestly. And watched Free Solo last night about Alex Honnold, the free solo climber who scaled El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes a couple of years ago. I was there (in Yosemite, I mean) pretty much exactly this time a year ago and we stood squinting at the rock face trying to spot tiny little ant-like humans climbing up it. Nutters. But another good doc should you be looking for one.
In non-television news, I watered my garden tonight and genuinely squealed when I saw my first ever sweetpea has started flowering. Technically it’s from a plant my mum gave me last summer, which I transported to my garden and thought I’d killed off. But it’s recently burst back into life and I’m so proud that I keep going outside to look at it again. And smell it. It even smells like sweetpea! (Perhaps unsurprisingly.)
Ooooh we love an airport debate in this country, don’t we? Absolutely love it. Stansted was declared Britain’s worst airport for delays this week which will satisfy those who believe that travelling through it is akin to sailing the Straits of Scylla. But mention Stansted and someone else will invariably chip in about the woes of Luton, then there’ll be a grumble about Gatwick before another declares that these days they only fly from Heathrow, actually.
Airport snobbery is one of the very worst forms of the art, as irritating as television snobbery and people who tut if you order a cappuccino after 11am. Entry-level snobbery is complaining about the ‘ghastliness’ of places like Stansted and Luton. ‘I’m so sorry, was your barouche not available to take to you Malaga?’ I want to say whenever I hear someone moan about EasyJet or Ryanair. Alright it hasn’t been great for the planet and the stag parties are a drag, but have our lives not been perked up, our horizons broadened, by the option of nipping to Stockholm or Tallinn for the weekend? Seems churlish to moan even if you find the uniforms ‘jarring’.
It’s the people who bang on about lounges and their membership tiers who really grate, though. There’s a lot of talk about mental health these days which is excellent, but I feel we need to address those who base their self-worth on which airport lounge they have access to. Congratulations! You’re allowed into a special room where they have freakishly small glasses and bowls of something congealing that contains chickpeas.
The person who declares they only fly from Heathrow will almost certainly manage to shoehorn into conversation that they have a British Airways Gold card. ‘I’m BA gold now, yah, makes all the difference,’ they’ll say, as if they have an exciting job which involves lots of travel like, say, Buzz Aldrin, when actually they do something immensely boring in finance.
Others will make sure you know how important they are by Instagramming a picture of themselves in the lounge, or a champagne glass beside their boarding pass to Ibiza. Such people shouldn’t be allowed on holiday in the first place. The other day, a friend let slip that he checks the British Airways app on his phone every day to make sure he hasn’t slipped down a tier from Gold to Silver, and my main reaction was to feel a sudden and very deep sorrow for his wife.
Some years ago, when that film out about airmiles starring George Clooney came out, I wrote a newspaper article about airmile ‘millionaires’. While researching it, I discovered the online chatrooms that run for pages on the subject of how to rack up the maximum number of miles on differing routes. On the one hand, it’s a very human instinct to want to feel superior to another, and is bolstering your self-confidence via airmiles any worse than doing it by telling everyone you ever meet that you went to Oxford? On the other hand, get a grip.
Obviously all such judgements were suspended last month, however, when I travelled with a friend who has a Gold card which meant we were whisked through the First Class check-in area at Terminal 5 and straight into the lounge where I immediately loaded a plate with 43 egg sandwiches. Admittedly they were free, but I had to eat so many of them because they were so tiny. Much smaller than the ones you get from the Pret at Luton airport, as it happens.
Here’s a useful tip for anyone getting married this summer: when you’ve been pronounced man and wife and are standing at the top of the aisle with everyone watching, kiss with your mouths open. This is according to a posh friend who got married not long ago with Prince Harry and Meghan watching (so she must be right). Apparently having your lips parted makes a better picture. No tongues, though, because the vicar’s right there. Just make sure you’ve warned your other half about this practice beforehand, otherwise you’ll spend the entire service trying to hiss it at him while he’s saying his vows, as another friend did recently.
Did you see that disgraceful survey about the number of adults who still sleep with a soft toy? Thirty-four percent of us can’t sleep without our cuddly bears or childhood dollies, it said. So embarrassing! What a load of namby pambies! No wonder we’ve got ourselves into such a political mess! Except, erm, since becoming single again I’ve been sleeping with a much-loved rabbit given to me by my godmother when I was a couple of weeks old. I stuff him into my bedside cupboard when Anna the cleaner comes so she doesn’t have me referred to an asylum. But I retrieve him afterwards and put him gently back between my pillows, apologising profusely. I may never have another boyfriend again, but that’s alright because I’ve got Bunny.