Even the longest journey must begin somewhere but why, oh why did it have to be Luton Airport? As the launch pad for a grand, quixotic adventure, an Easyjet flight from Luton Airport has all the romantic and dramatic potential of a jar of pickled eggs.
James Bond slid a complimentary serviette between the seat of his tailored trousers and the sticky, faux leather bar stool and took a bite from his Egg McMuffin. He stared coldly at his fellow travellers. ‘What’s the point of having a license to kill?’ he thought, as he pulled out his Walther PPK, ‘if you don’t use it.’
‘We met in front of the romantic books section in W.H. Smiths at Luton Airport. It was fate. Our mutual love of Barbara Cartland’s novels brought us together.’
Accustomed to the wide horizons and immense, inky blue skies of the Danakil desert, Wilfred Thesiger surveyed the pathetic pansies thronging the concourse with his trademark thousand-yard stare. Was there time before his flight was called, he wondered, to take advantage of the special offer on Nike trainers at JB Sports?
A contemporary of mine at school claimed to have been chatted up by Thesiger, an admirer of pretty, young boys, in Riyadh Airport, in about 1980. I’m fairly sure that the old lecher of Abyssinia wouldn’t have risen to the occasion in Luton.
These days, chatting up children, without parental approval – rubber-stamped in triplicate by the headmistress – is strongly discouraged, even in the Danakil desert. I’m not saying, exactly, that I approve of dirty old men, just that the absurd result of attempting to outlaw them is a world in which Jeremy Clarkson is now the closest we get to authenticity. And look what happened to him.
Living dangerously – formerly known simply as ‘living’ – has been reduced/traduced to zorbing on your gap year in New Zealand or doing a charity parachute jump, after passing all the appropriate health and safety checks, on your 50th birthday.
There’s no denying that, as their advertisements suggest, this is the Easyjet generation. I wasted two hours of my life yesterday, wending my way to the front of the bag drop queue (formerly known as ‘check in’, now with fewer, surlier staff and more people between you and the departures lounge). When I got to the front of the queue, I was charged £30 for being 2.7kg overweight. ‘Why don’t you weigh the morbidly obese family three places behind me and suggest that we split the difference?’ I asked.
OK, I didn’t. But I should have.
My nephew, William, four at the time, was only half right when he announced, on entering an orange-and-white aircraft, bound for Majorca, ‘I like two kinds of jets, Mummy, private jet and Easyjet.’ Unfortunately, my means don’t stretch to private jets at the moment. In fact, they don’t even stretch to Speedy Boarding.
But that’s OK, because I’m on my way to Antalya, in Turkey – aren’t you worried about being bombed? ask concerned friends, who live in central London, apparently without the slightest trace of irony – where I begin seven months of almost ceaseless travel. I shall be trying to live dangerously, not because I want to die, but because – on the contrary – I’ve decided that I’d like to live.