Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Outside London, 27-29/07/2007

We spent last week-end in Epping Forest, Essex, just outside London, England. The weather was unstable, but the company was good and the walks through the woods muddy. The most interesting details, though, came from the travelling.

Just after our RyanAir flight had landed at Stanstead, a trumpet fanfare blared. A voice rejoiced, somewhat along these lines: "Congratulations, you have arrived on time. Surprised? You shouldn't be: 90% of RyanAir's flights arrive on time, making us Europe's number one." A canned audience cheered wildly. In terms of convenience, we should have taken the Eurostar and I always feel sorry for the young, pretty stewardesses who are forced to wear uniforms a middle-aged cleaning lady would refuse, but the surreal humour of the announcement almost made it all worthwhile.

Coming back on Sunday, I used the hand dryers in the airport's washrooms. They're pretty amazing, using blast power rather than heat to get their job done. Which they do extremely well and quickly, but I carried on using it for a while after my hands were dry, just to look at the small, moving circle of depressed flesh it imprinted on them.

In addition to unpacking your laptop and taking off your jacket and your belt, you now have to take off your shoes and have them scanned as well. Considering that this measure led to Paul Wolfowitz's downfall, the fact that the Eurostar doesn't care which socks you wear is another point in its favour. All that remains is for airport security to require us to bare our souls. That said, the idea of a beeping hand-held soul scanner is somewhat attractive.