"Would you mind sitting in front of the emergency exit?" asked the woman at the airport check in at the provincial airport I was visiting during my recent business trip.
"Do I have to?" I replied
"No, you don't have to" she replied tapping furiously on her keyboard to prepare my boarding card and giving me the deadliest look.
The next series of questions were despatched in such a blur rounded off with the "Have a nice flight" statement said with such vitriol that I wished I had asked to sit in front of the emergency exit, as she would surely by arranging for my plane to crash.
This left me asking what was so special about me that she wanted me to sit in front of the emergency exit. Did I remind her of her long lost partner or was it that as the plane was sparcely occupied, she needed a fat bloke to balance up the weight on the plane, or else it would not fly in a straight line. I suspected the latter.
I parked all of these thoughts and went into Departures. My new shoes announce their presence now whenever I go through security requiring me to be frisked by a large grey-haired ex boxer in search of hidden Kalashnikovs. They make a pleasing "clunk" sound when I am walking in echoey corridors - indeed such a "clunk" that I play with its speed and depth pretending my footsteps are those of an assassin walking up to despatch his next victim to the other place or an Victorian Headmaster about to beat one of his pupils.
Once through, I ventured toward the viewing gallery, a cavenous space filled with as many seats as would befit such a space in an international airport. There were 3 people sitting there, each in suits with their feet up intently talking on phones.
On the wall of the Viewing Gallery, there was a strikingly awful series of pictures of planes which had visited the airport, carefully embroidered into panels. Technically, they were well done but were a small evolutionary step from embroidery by numbers kits that used to appear as unwanted Christmas presents from maiden aunts to their wayward nieces and soon found themselves despatched to become part of the global landfill problem.
The planes lacked any glamour in these panels, in the same way as a Stealth Bomber would have done if you had sent it out in a knitted cardigan. There was an accompanying narrative by these panels talking about the glories of flying from this airport but nowhere recognition of the time and care taken by the local embroidery circle in producing this work. This was either bad manners by the airport or reflective of a past scandal at the embroidery circle involving group sex, widespread drug taking and human sacrifice making them the true embodiment of evil.
On the other side of the wall was a better example of the depiction of flying, this time painted on canvas and with the acknowledgement of who had painted it and who had donated it. There was dynamism in this picture but it was of the type and quality that if I had brought it home, my wife would have declared that it had to live I the toilet or I had to return it to the shop. In this case, the toilet was not of sufficient size to exhibit this majestic flypast, so full of previous purchases that there was no room or the shop had simply refused to refund the purchase. I surmised in this situation that Mrs Harrison, one of the donors of this masterpiece clear wears the trousers in that relationship.
My flight called, I headed off to a real plane with no desire to go commit my experiences to wool.