24 August 2011

early morning airports

Prestwick in the wee hours is becoming something of a familiar scene for me. The tortured breakfast buffet steams away; watery bacon, leather-coated sausages and fried eggs shaped like hockey pucks all await hungry travellers with scant regard for nutritional value. I shamefully acknowledge my own dietary crimes and settle into some of that watery bacon and leathery sausage. Yes, even the hockey puck egg. I wash it all down with fruit juice in a vain attempt to cleanse the grease and my conscience.

After breakfast I sit near the bar and try some writing to kill time. The bar is, and this is not a joke, called the Elvis Presley Bar. Sadly, it's not as tacky as it's name suggests. In fact, it's fairly subdued and irksomely tasteful. Well, as tasteful as a bar in Prestwick can be. Perhaps antiseptic is a better word for it. In any case, the disappointment continues: there are no deep-fried bacon, banana and peanut butter sandwiches on the menu. I'm pretty sure it would have been healthier than the breakfast I just ate, fruit juice or no.

Everyone with a paper reads a red-top tabloid. They skim the pages, scanning the pictures and perhaps a headline or two, but never seem to read anything. A fair few pints are sipped, and I confess that were I not working on the other end of my flight, I would nurse one myself.

There's something staged about this place. It looks like the departure lounge in a cheap tv show, the sort of thing you watch and think, 'that's not what real airports look like'. The scruffiness of it all, the shops, the bar, the breakfast buffet, the passengers (yours truly included), is the only thing convincing me that Ross isn't about to run in and stop Rachel from getting on a plane.

I might succumb and grab a pint anyway. It may help me sleep on the flight.

23 August 2011


I own a lot of t-shirts. They sit, folded with reasonable competence, in three piles, on the top shelf of my closet. Two of the piles are the t-shirts I wear regularly, pretty much everyday. Those are the two front piles and they're stacked high. The shirts in those piles are varied - some are beer freebies, many are Red Sox tees, and quite a few possess quirky graphics or phrases that appeal to whatever mood I was in when I bought them. I like my t-shirts to have some sort of meaning to me. I don't know why.

The third pile is smaller and sits in their shadow. I have to take out one of the other piles to get to them. Those shirts are not worn everyday, or even monthly. They get worn pretty much once a year.

Technically speaking, they're clean. They've been thoroughly laundered and detergent, be it Ecover, Bold or Persil, has done all it can for them. They don't look clean. The white ones, if they can still be called that, bear the full brunt; splattered and smeared with uneven blotches of grey, black and jaundiced brown, front and back, sleeve and chest and belly, looking for all the world as though I'd slaughtered something long ago whilst wearing them.

I didn't slaughter anything. Honest.

It's the mark of grapes in their thousands and perhaps millions.

Out came that third pile this morning. I lay them on my bed, smiled, refolded each one and packed them tightly into my duffel bag. Each one has three vintages worth of winemaking stains so deeply pummelled into the fabric that they must be now a part of it. Tomorrow I'll start pummelling the fourth vintage into them, and I couldn't be happier about it.