Manchester : Service With A Frown

Jasper Carrott used to do a great comedy routine about East Midlands Airport, berating its basic facilities. He’d joke that the aircraft were so old they were launched by bungee. These days, East Midlands is owned by the same group as Manchester Airport, our departure point. And at 4am, it’s grim up north.

The morning starts with a heavy downpour, accompanied by a shuttle bus driver with a suitably miserable approach to the job in hand. He allows a family of passengers to get on board, before telling them that their cases need to go in the back. This means them getting off the bus and the rest of us waiting in the rain until all was safely stowed.

I use the term “shuttle bus” loosely. In the gloom of the winding Airport perimeter road, the transfer vehicle resembled something you might be put in by the riot squad. Inside the terminal we wander aimlessly to the check in hall – on the impossibly high Level 12. The breakfast bar is staffed by a collection of employees who achieved varying levels of failure at charm school. A queue soon forms of people waiting 20 minutes for a bacon buttie and a pint of Fosters.

Bap, sir?

But one of the great things about airports is the opportunity to do some people watching, and people listening – trying to decipher which language different groups might be speaking in, and working out which of the various flights they might be on.

Today’s exercise is made more challenging when people are using words and phrases not in common usage by normal people. And it’s not too long before I’m at a compete loss as to what John and Phil are talking about.

“Veronica wanted me to do two summaries of the semi finalists – but I told her she could stuff that.”

“Yeah – who does she think she is? Does she even realise the difficulties with HTML?”

This is deep geek stuff. A conversation, apparently, about the secret world of Eurovision web sites, of which there are many. A dozen names of Maltese performers are brought into the ever more impossible array of Stuff Your Brain Shouldn’t Be Able To Deal With At 5am. To John and Phil, it’s just another game of Departure Lounge Foreplay.

“Klinssman’s a fool. How many more times is he going to enter? He always come last!”

Incidentally, I’ll be copyrighting some of these ideas for Airport Games and selling them to Channel 5, compete with a money making app. Big Brother’s got nothing on this material, and we’ve not even taken off.

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