(Planet Me)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
smile, you're travelling

One of the things that never gets any better is the travelling. At the airport, you sit, you wait, you check in, you wait, you queue, you wait, you take off your shoes, you put your laptop in a separate tray, you wait, you take off your jacket, you wait, you take off your belt, you wait, you walk through a metal detector, you wait, you pick up your laptop, you pick up your shoes, you wait, you put the shoes back on, you pack your laptop, you wait, you leave, you wait, you wait, you wait, you walk around looking at the overpriced tat with the VAT taken off as you are no longer actually in any country but a weird limbo land, you wait, your flight is called, you queue, you wait, you walk, you sit, you wait, you taxi, you take off, you wait, you land, and you do the same thing all over again.

Some people say the terrorists haven’t won because they haven’t changed our way of life. Anyone who goes to an airport knows the terrorists have won. Everything changes. The eyes of fear see everyone as a terrorist, everyone as a killer, everyone as a genocidal religious maniac, and it’s up to me to prove otherwise. Guilty until proven innocent is now the rule of any frequent flier.

In the rest of the world, meanwhile, I travel from the airport to the city. From the city to the hotel. From the reception to the anonymous rented room, hired by the 22 hour period. From 14.00 to 12.00noon the next day. Sat in the hotel room, I bore quickly of the generic art (available for purchase from reception, probably). I tire of the impracticalities of the room that feel like nowhere anyone would want to live. Why don’t these rooms have sofas, instead of two generic, stiff backed chairs? The bed is folded and made as an ornate piece of linen origami. Unravelled, I eventually sleep between the sheets and sliver of decorative fabric whilst I sweat my way through the night. The fan doesn’t work.


These rooms are a maze : each one how to work differently, how to be unpicked like a lock, each lacking simple facts like toothbrush and toothpaste. The experienced traveller missing such rings down to reception and hopes. Personalised greetings welcome me to this tiny, stuffy room, this rented modicum of anonymity. I have four channels of shit to chose from, and two sports channels, and a news channel. Three channels of pay-per-view movies (broadcast in the abomination that is 4:3 Pan’N’Scan), and several channels of ‘adult programming’. Billed discreetly to your tariff. I hear. Never paid for hotel porn in my life. I have some standards, of course.

How many people have fucked in this room? Businessmen sleeping alone in boredom, or perhaps randomly trawled the streets for single mothers looking for a night of escape from the grey world? How many couples of their honeymoons, or their annual holiday, seeing Edinburgh as an exotic locale, looking up from their window to Calton Hill? Has a child been conceived in this room? Has an abortion started here? An affair? A scandal? A secret? A romance? Who knows?

These pale, dull walls say nothing. Silently they watch and reveal nothing. Tonight, someone else curls into these walls. Someone else inserts a plastic electro magnetic keycard, and the symphony of a temporary life starts again. This time, it’s someone else : another businessman, a tourist, a family, perhaps even a Z-grade touring rock star. Could Thom Yorke have slept in this room in 1993 when he and his band played at some crap club with sticky carpets called the “Cathouse”?

There are thousands of rooms like this, in every city in every country in every continent in the planet. Everyone of them has a story to tell.

The new restrictions on air passengers have ruined it for me now. I avoid air travel when I can.
I wish you'd emailed me - I could have come through and met you for a night on the lash!
i just read this post...after what I've just emailed you....o=h my fuckin GOD, life is strange!!!!!
they won the moment you had the stupid pastic bags with grannies face creme and uncle paul's preperation h in it.

I was once at Boston airport and got chatting to a guy from the Sherton hotel chain, he said the average time a paid for movie is viewed in a hotel room is 7 minutes. YES 7 whole minutes and thats an average, my god I thought there must be some really frustrated people out there.

When you start comparing hotel room chains by the quality of the generic pictures of local historic buildings in plan form or demand at checking a room with the bathrom on the left otherwise you'll walk into the window again in the middle of the night when you go for a pee. You know you've been spending too much time on the road.
I think I may have spent too much time on the road then.. and they wonder why I never turn up at the office.

i know i've been spending too much time on the road when I hear Stanley say "When are we going home Daddy" http://blog.kking.co.uk/blog/_archives/2007/6/26/3049184.html
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