Things I wrote in Dubai at 3 or 4am

Yesterday I got back to Hong Kong, ate and collapsed at around 11pm. It had felt like an incredibly long journey from the argument with Emirates at Newcastle Airport right through to the last flight where the mountainous woman sitting next to me fell asleep with her head of my shoulder while the full frontal assault of her body odour punched me in the face. I’m still not caught up on sleep, waking up twice during the night covered in sweat, wondering where I was and what day it was but at least I did better than the night I spent in Dubai airport. My connection was some 7 or 8 hours after I landed at around midnight and deciding the best use of my time was probably to write another blog entry, I set about it. Here is the unedited mess that fell out of me at 3 or possibly 4 in the morning. After typing it I even sent a copy to a friend to edit and after reviewing her extensive notes I decided it was funnier to leave it as is. Day after notes included in bold. Take it as cautionary tale on the dangers of sleep deprivation. Enjoy.

“Is it possible to like an airport? It’s certainly not possible to love one and it’s incredibly easy to hate any of them if you spend too long there. Occasionally someone will mention one that was ‘quite nice’ or is ‘supposed to be good’ when they hear you’re passing through there but the most positive reaction I’ve ever been able to drag up is total ambivalence. I’m sitting in one of these ‘supposed to be good’ airports right now, Dubai namely. No don’t get me wrong designers, builders and architects of Dubai, you’ve clearly put a lot of effort into the place. I just can’t understand why. You’ll have spent millions, probably billions on making this hangar look like nothing more than a really big version of a painfully dull shopping mall. You wouldn’t be alone there (I’m looking at you Schipol!) I just think the money could have gone on something more creative and more enjoyable for everyone, say perhaps a giant Ulrika Johnson statue flashing her pre-operation boobs to everyone as they fly into your glorious country. (No idea why I had it in for Ulrika Johnson but that statue would be quite horrible.)

If any plane passenger relishes the opportunity to peruse more bottles of perfume than could ever conceivably be used at marginally cheaper prices or if they just can’t wait to touch down so they can go to tie rack or have a drink that costs about as much as your first car, I would greatly appreciate it if they were shot upon entry for the good of the species. That might be a little harsh. After seven hours on a flight sitting next to Mr Twitches-in-his-sleep-and-really-like-that-armrest and watching in flight entertainment that boasts movie channels synced so they all start and end at the same fucking time with a 10-15 minute break before starting up again, it’s easy to want people shot. Holy run-on sentences Batman! On thing they did get right however, was the inclusion of external cameras facing down and forwards that we could watch live on the last two channels. As fun as it was to watch Newcastle leave underneath us as we set off, it was more than a little unsettling watching us land in the middle of the night in Dubai in real time. Like a flight simulator that’s actually totally real and that you have no control over. Here’s an irrational pet hate for you: airports that make you get on a bus and drive around the runway for a bit of a laugh before depositing you at the main building. I know not all airports can use the tunnels all the time and this is probably the best way of doing it but it feels like they’re fucking with me. Like someone decided we hadn’t spent enough time in the sweaty, irritable company of our fellow morons so just when we think we can get away from each other they stuff us into a bus for a little bit longer. This time with the added bonus of armpits in faces!

Feeling more than a little miffed about the idea of spending the whole night from 1am to about 9.30 bumming around this brightly lit warehouse, I sought out the airport hotel almost fantasising about the idea of a bed and possibly a shower seeing as I’d be here for the duration. (I absolutely do not fantasise about soft furnishings or shower fixtures. Thanks.) At the check-in I was asked how many hours I needed to stay. Hours? Brilliant! I didn’t even need to pay per night, it would be cheaper than I thought. She announces the Dubai equivalent of £168. Now I’ve talked a lot about my failure with learning languages but the good thing is we all understand the universal language of ‘HOW MUCH? Fuck off!’ The exhausted frequent flyer in me seriously considered it but the tight-fisted Yorkshireman in me over-powered that wuss and I took my leave. No way was I paying that much for that little, bed or no! Resigning myself to the fact that there would be no sleep had tonight, I went in hunt for a power outlet so I could attempt to pass the time that is so easy to waste when you’re not waiting for anything. So I’m sitting here now about 100 gates away from where I’ll need to be come 8.30 or so at one of the ‘mobile charger stations’ that are littered about this airport. They’re made by LG and look like giant red and white pebbles balancing on each other with a bank of sockets halfway up and of course a flat screen TV advertising the latest macho bullshit shooting game with the longest, most visually sharp but nonetheless, incredibly hackneyed and more than a little boring trailer I have ever seen. And I’ve seen trailers for Vin Diesel movies!

I’m at that awful point now where you yawn and yawn until it’s painful but you don’t drop off. I’m too paranoid someone would steal something to let myself nod off in all honesty. My surprisingly quiet corner of the terminal is being slowly converged upon by others now. A family with kids, noisy kids. Kids that like running up and down and screaming at each other while their parents try to forget they’re there. Those kind of kids. (There were kids there is what I was trying to say.) A man has sat down behind me and is sniffing constantly and I don’t know what kind of electrical device he’s playing with but it’s making constant static noise. Is that the point? Is it some sort of video game I don’t understand? There’s a door near by that sets off a nasty alarm every time a member of staff opens it which, as it turns out, is quite a lot. What’s so great about this airport huh?

I’ve had to retype every sentence of the last paragraph. There’s a very good chance this won’t make any sense but at least it killed some time.”

And now it’s killed some of yours.

DH.

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