Airport Stories

Airports are strange places, that few of us enjoy. Long lines at security and overcrowded terminals make them pretty soul-less places. However, none of us could easily travel anywhere, without using them so for me it is usually just a case of grinning and bearing it. So to pass the time I usually apply the ideas I first described in my earlier post The Zen of Flying. However, as a writer it is often hard for me to resist distracting myself in another way. For sometimes I will look at the many faces around until I notice a solitary but often interesting looking character and then imagine his or her life. Why are they flying today, what motivates them, and what upsets them until in this way I can create a false, yet interesting history for them. Today I have already given a gentleman sitting in the area for a flight to Sicily a dangerous past, where his run-ins with the mafia, once cost him his first business, but still he had the courage to start up another one, the effort of which is keenly etched upon his face.

terminal
Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Sitting across from me is a slightly overweight Greek looking woman (although she could easily be Turkish, if she wasn’t waiting for a flight to Athens). She displays that distinct signature of women of a certain age from the Aegean area: too much make-up, dyed blonde hair and mutton dressed as lamb clothing, which I often feel contributes to the look of a drag queen. Although on this occasion, this lady has become a fading pop star (because she insists on wearing shades, despite the torrential rain outside) with the lines, despite her botox, of a mercurial career etched across her face

Sometimes I even wonder what my fellow passengers make of me, that is if they even notice me at all. Would they guess anywhere near the truth? That I am a man now into his second month of travelling, a man who has seen more old friends and relatives in 2 weeks than in the previous 2 years, a man still adjusting to a new phase in his life, a man who, because of all of that has happened since the spring, is now more than ready for a period of rest and recuperation in friendly restorative surroundings, which will eventually allow him to plan a more fulfilling future, doing more of the things he wants to do, rather than the things he felt obligated to do until quite recently.

Returning to my airport game I will often go on to imagine those characters, I have created, eventually sitting together and striking up a conversation (language is never a problem), until they eventually both reveal the past I have just burdened them with, until the game enters another phase of possibilities, opportunities or lost chances. Perhaps a mutual interest will reveal itself or maybe even a romance will be born – for the realm of the mind and invention can provide countless permutations and possible outcomes. Which, like life itself can provide unequal doses of excitement, curiosity or simply more misery than one could have ever expected when a new adventure first revealed itself. And sometimes, just sometimes, I will put pen to paper and make it real.

So… next time you find yourself delayed or with time to kill at an airport – just accept that there is nothing you can do to change the situation and so stop constantly checking the departures board, or playing with your phone and create your own unique story from the characters around you. Yes it will take a bit of practice, but who knows, you may just create a bestseller!

My writing and some extra travelling commitments mean that this blog will now only be posted every fortnight for the foreseeable future – However, its my intention to make it weekly again sometime in the Autumn.


Boris’s Garden

Currently in London, and moored almost at the bottom of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s garden in Islington. I am on my brother’s narrow boat, which allows us to sail around central London and stay for up to 2 weeks at a time, in some of the better postcodes the capital has to offer. So in a way you feel both connected to the capital but also, and this is the best bit, quite separate from all of the overheated expense and commuting necessary to live so centrally.

I always look forward to my times in London to catch up with old friends and also to enjoy various bursts of culture and entertainment, that are seldom available where I live. This summer has been no exception and I have done a number of galleries, exhibitions and also watched a couple of art-house films, which if they ever reach Turkey tend to be either in French with Turkish subtitles or worse still dubbed into Turkish.

boats

After a fairly unsettled spring and summer period in Turkey this year, it had actually began to cross my mind that it was getting close to the time, when I should perhaps consider spending more time in the UK. Living in Turkey is never straightforward and their knee jerk love of any excuse to complicate even the most simple process with unnecessary red-tape is legendary. Ataturk may have got rid of the Ottoman Empire but some of the mentality, systems, ideas and petty bureaucracy that was such a suffocating part of those years, still lives on in far too many corners of today’s Republic. There is also a sense that under the AK Party Turkey is experiencing a period of increasing Islamisation, which some commentators have described as creeping into far too many aspects of our life there, a process that has worried many people in recent years, mainly because no one knows how far this process will go. That said, I tend to live a quite simple but comfortable life there, so I can’t complain too much. Also, despite leaving my house for the hottest 7 weeks of the year, simply to escape the the chaos of the holiday season, it is easy to forget that for the other 45 weeks of the year, I live a quite happy and pretty much undisturbed, life with often my only conversation, being throw away comments to my cat.

baz

So while I miss London, and other cosmopolitan places, before too long I always seem to want to get back to my simple life in Turkey. I lived in London, on and off, for the best part of 20 years and in that time I have seen many changes, particularly after spending big chunks of time away, that most residents may barely notice. But if I had to pick just one change compared to last year; it would undoubtedly be the fact that on 2 separate occasions, just this week, in different places, I have heard people discussing the rising value of their property, which was a fashion that I had hoped had died out back in the early 90′s. But no, London, or at least Central London is apparently going through a mini property boom, all fired up by foreign buyers eager to get a foothold in the capital. However, before you all book flights to get in on the act, I should also warn you that there is also a tandem belief, that the bubble is just about to burst. This mainly because the vast majority of these buyers are Russians, who are about to become awash with Government restrictions, regulations and extra taxes etc. in the wake of Mr Putin’s clear involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and the recent shooting down of the Malaysian airliner.

Anyway, enough of this travelogue on London – it is now 6pm and so high time for me to again share a bottle of red wine with some friends at the bottom of the Mayor’s garden – something which would be quite unthinkable now if I was anywhere near the homes of the ever more Islamist leaning Mayors of Istanbul or Ankara… so Cheers Boris!