You might be vaguely curious as to why I’m writing this blog at five minutes past one on a Monday morning, in an almost totally deserted airport. Let me count the ways…..
I have a fairly imminent (6.15) flight down from Newcastle to Heathrow, to connect with a flight out to Stockholm to board the very alluring Silver Whisper. The one downside is the waiting here; and that’s mainly down to the logistics of being located in the north east of England.
Direct flights to the continent are almost non existent; both KLM and Air France have a far better network of European connections than BA- at least in theory. But trying to get decent connections to tie in with a ship sailing from Stockholm, or even Athens? Sorry, but no.
Of course, i could have tried getting a few hours’ sleep at home, and set my alarm for some god awful, inhuman hour. Truth be told, I have an inherent dread of not waking up on time. And- miss that first flight, and the rest of the itinerary is toast, of course. Not a realistic option.
Hence, here I am. Transported by my wonderful niece a few hours since, and moderately refreshed, courtesy of some seriously decent- and decently priced- white wine, courtesy of the Doubletree Hilton hotel, just across the road. Nice bar, nice music, and some seriously knowledgeable staff who know their business. Thank you, lovely people.
Right now? Well, the airport is bereft of almost any human cargo, but the air conditioning is making a noise that would give Niagara Falls a run for its money. Quite obviously, it’s amplified by that lack of any kind of human commotion. At this moment, it is positively thunderous.
Elsewhere, I find myself surrounded by literally acres of bare, polished floor, lit to almost feverish intensity by lighting of a strength akin to that I envisage once found in a condemned cell of old. In front of me, a trio of ghastly, illuminated bandits trill out a shrill, unyielding message to any ghosts in the vicinity to feed them. It’s about as alluring as front row seats to an Atomic Kitten reunion concert, and only slightly less of a hideous, cackling cacophony.
There’s an empty coffee bar that looks half open, and the sound of mechanical floor scrubbers doing the rounds, like third division panzers getting high on the lack of opposition. A hundred or so yards away from me, there’s a guy writhing in agonised contortions as he attempts vainly to sleep across a trio of seats only marginally narrower than a UKIP viewpoint.
The check in desks are all, naturally, deserted. Each one emptier than Paris Hilton’s head. Any footsteps- anywhere- echo with epic clarity right through the lower departures level. It’s like something straight from a haunted mansion.
And yet, all of this will change quite soon. Thank God.
Tired, barely awake check in staff will shuffle through the doors. Shutters on closed shops will ascend skywards with a sound like a train rumbling through a tunnel. More lights. And the smell of real, fresh brewed coffee, wafting through the pre dawn, fluorescent floor show like fine perfume.
People will come. Like in that great scene from the end of Field of Dreams, when the conga line of car headlights suddenly sears the darkness. People going on holiday. Or business. The airport will stir, shrug itself awake, and brace itself for another busy summertime day.
As for me, I’ll rise above the urge to nap, grab a coffee, and check my emails. I’ll try desperately- and so far unsuccessfully- to ignore the perennially annoying trio of bandits. Time is marching on. I will, too.
The Silver Whisper awaits, just scant hours away. I can wait.
It’s just that my first night on board might well be an early night, that’s all. Or maybe not.