Airports bother me. They’re too large and too redolent of Big Brother wrapped up as a shopping experience. To start with, as a Brit, I detest seeing anyone wandering around openly totting a submachine gun. I get that I’m extremely fortunate to live in a country where this is a notable experience (if for all the wrong reasons). Still, it sucks, frankly. Then there are the narcotic tricks the security people play. All the little things you take on and off and out, leaving you to believe that somehow this stops the rogue nutter from ruining yours and several other lives.
But what it is, at root, this unease, is a manifestation of a reluctance to travel. I like ‘abroad’. Mostly it’s interesting and full of novel and sometimes interesting things and people. I also like home – actually I love home; it caps abroad by a considerable margin but still I do want to experience abroad. It’s just that I don’t like the getting there, the transitional bit. If I could just say ‘Beam me to [ ], Mr Scott,’ I’d be a happy chappy. As a consequence I get to airports ridiculously early because, if I have to go through all this pain, I don’t need the stress of being late and rushing.
I do not enjoy any form of helter-skelter dash to try and cut to a minimum the time between entering the airport and strapping myself in. I spent a lot of time, in my legal existence, with a German colleague traveling the globe and he was in many ways an ideal companion – witty, charming, thoughtful and easy going. He was also a class A1 shit when it came to getting to the airport. In Madrid one time he cancelled a cab I had ordered to ensure we had to rush. We made it, he didn’t stop grinning and I didn’t stop sweating. We would both resort to subterfuge – he procrastinating, pretending to take important calls just as we were about to leave some meeting; me offering to organise the transport and telling him a different flight time to the actual.
Now when I travel it’s not on business so it should all be a pleasure. And today, right now, as I sit having a coffee in Terminal 2 at Heathrow two and a half hours before my flight, I feel all the above. Plus I feel excited. I’m meeting the Lawyer for a great holiday. I haven’t seen him since he set off on his own travels in September. We have a lot of catching up to do. But I’m unaccompanied. Both the Vet and the Textiliste have their degrees which, much as they’d love a trip, take precedence. As does Dog. He needs a companion.
So really it’s not airports or thoughtless travel companions but the small bereavement that comprises a leaving. The fly in the ointment. The grit in the Vaseline. The splinter as I slide down Life’s Long Bannister.
So to cheer myself up – which of course I don’t need really – have attached various pictures of quilts and cushions made by a prison charity, Fine Cell.
I attach a link to the York Quilt Museum’s latest exhibition to be curated by the one and only Textiliste (jointly with her fellow volunteer, Caroline). If you find the occasion to be in or near York in the new year, do pop along.