If you’re into people watching, you can’t do much better than an airport. There is always someone that catches your eye when you first enter the terminal…
sometimes it’s a group of unruly children and throughout the process you are praying that they are not going to be the ones that end up sitting behind you.
Or it might be one of the idiots who still doesn’t realise they can’t take a litre of bottled water through security [hello] or who wait until they’re next through the x-ray machine before unloading 57 gadgets!
But then you are through security and buying your first coffee – then you begin to notice your fellow travellers…
There are the extended families with a dozen or more members; their lines of authority so blurred it is impossible to tell who belongs to whom as they splay out in one boisterous colony. There are the sober retirees setting off for some serious hiking, to play golf or visit grandchildren in far-flung places; the immaculate middle-eastern man accompanying three women, all in full Muslim dress; the back-packers with weary but hopeful expressions and the groups of lads already dressed for the beach. There are the impeccably casual mums with their chino-and-polo-shirted husbands and three exquisite, tousled headed children. There are the tear-stained lovers who can’t bear the thought of six weeks’ separation; the obnoxious, show-off children who talk too loudly and pull exaggerated faces and the anxious new mum with a baby strapped to her chest, stressing that every little mew is going to end in mayhem.
It is easy to forget as we jet around the world that mass travel is a very recent phenomenon – just within my lifetime air travel has changed unrecognisably! When I was a child people used to dress up – air travel was exotic and everyone associated with it was sophisticated and dashing. Captains were dark and brooding and Stewardesses were sculpted and flawless. So in an era of casual comfort, if a touch of old-world glamour ever comes your way, run with it just for old time’s sake.