A few thoughts on my journey home. I haven’t had much sleep since Sunday morning, so apologies if this is a bit all-over-the-place.
Firstly, Detroit airport is amazing. There’s a motown shop and an amazing indoor monorail thing that whooshes along the upper tier of the terminal buildings. It’s bright red and, coupled with the big, airy ceilings, makes you feel like you’re in an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. All that was lacking was robocop – instead, police patrolled the area on BIKES, which puts the lazy segway security guards in Atlanta to shame. Though it’s ironic that the bikes they use probably had to be shipped to the airport by car.
I had a couple of hours to kill, waiting for my connecting flight to London, so I wandered aimlessly back and forth, along the moving walkways, gawping at the restaurants and the screens showing American football. Amazingly, in the terminal’s central plaza there was karaoke – and anyone who stepped up to sing earned a $5 donation to the airline’s chosen charity. Unfortunately no passengers were brave enough to take to the (intimidatingly large) stage while I was in the area, so instead there was a slew of airport staff taking up the challenge. One exceedingly fat gentleman did a passable Barry White, then an enormous air hostess sung a Christmas song like she was born to be on stage. It was brilliantly surreal, and I clapped, and clapped, and ran away before anyone convinced me to sing.
I managed to get my seat changed to a window one, which was great, until I got on the plane to find out I was in the very back row – you know, those seats by the toilets that don’t recline – and was next to a mother and her baby, who was on an epic journey to Beruit via London to deal with a family crisis. The baby was beautifully behaved, barely crying at all, but the lack of space and occasional fat baby leg kicking I received meant that sleep was fairly impossible. I tried watching Transformers II, but it was too witless even for ironic enjoyment, and ended up re-reading Othello on my DS. I remain unconvinced by Iago’s motives for hating Othello – he claims weakly that he himself covets the fair Desdemona, and that he suspects Othello of shagging his wife – but for sheer manipulative cunning you can’t really beat him. He really is a frightful knave.
We arrived over England before dawn, and London twinkled in the dark, with the suburbs lit up, trains and cars moving slowly to their early morning destinations, and the patches of dark revealling the ancient common lands and hunting parks of Richmond and Wimbledon. We touched down at first light.
When I got through customs and onto the tube, I actually enjoyed the rush-hour madness: the mix of people and backgrounds, the silent hubbub, the invisible train etiquette rules, even the shit free newspaper that commuters inexplicably crave. Anything to prevent eye contact, I guess. Reading nothing is better than thinking something.
It’s good to be back.