I’m sitting in my usual seat in Glasgow airport in a quiet corridor just beyond the scent and shades gauntlet. Work people are drilling and sawing overhead, doubtless building more retail disgorgement centres. It’s another flight to Heathrow to pick up the tourbus en route to the former mainland (now the Lost Territory). There’s a nail bar (Aerospa Airport Beauty Lounge) behind me emitting a regular sidestick, the telltale signifier of “chillout” music. Music that is called music but isn’t music but a hybrid of background noise and air pollution. The launch factory is quiet today, a few stragglers dip in and out of the crud purveyors in vain attempts to achieve distraction. Wheelie cases give out little railway rhythms on the tiled floor as they glide past. A man in a hi-vis tabard comes by with a comical troglodyte gait, static arms arched out from his body with fists clenched like a bruiser from the Beano looking for revenge. He’s probably a chess prodigy. Somewhere something is beeping softly. It chimes with the chill. Ping, bong, peep — the dawn chorus at the end of the world.
I have a couple of listens to There’d Better Be a Mirrorball, the new single by Arctic Monkeys. It’s a lugubrious mixture of Marvin Gaye strings and Nick Lowe resignation and has two killer lines. Behind me a woman rides a massage stool like a motorcyclist as a masseuse ministers to her back. I’m called to the gate.
I look down from the lifting jet to see the winding Clyde. The left wing tips to the little lump of Dumgoyne at the end of the Campsies as we bump up through the smoke of cloud. We’re quickly through the fug and the sun glints on the engine’s aluminium. Flying is a privilege exerting unforgivable damage on the eggshell atmosphere. My job is a frippery waging war on the climate. There is no excuse. We march like zombies into increasing chaos and catastrophe. I’m a soldier of Satan. I cannot reconcile the expedience of the present with the oncoming apocalypse. I’m a moron, a human consuming the future. The turbines groan and burn in fury, turning clean air into poison. It’s all irreplaceable. We are ransacking our own palace and will cry out for mercy in its smoking embers, Bill Hicks’s virus with shoes.
We dip under the overcast and London appears like spilt treacle, the Thames snaking muddily and sluggishly like a wandering army through the clogged roads and the emerald plots of its great parks. Heathrow lies flat and dismal beyond the rain slashed window. We bump over the runway slabs to the terminal and it strikes me that I’m hungry. I remember I have a day old sandwich in my bag which I share with Buddy once aboard the bus. Derek has brought sausage rolls from the inexplicably popular Greggs. I pack one down my throat like I’m loading a mortar shell in an entirely unedifying manner. I take a sofa in the front lounge viewing deck. Driver Simon is basically steering a building down the motorway. My head nods to the undulations of the road as if in permanent agreement. We are heading east to Folkestone where this whole damn double-decker apartment block is to be loaded onto a train that takes us under la Manche.
The infrastructure at the Eurostar terminal is vast and alien. We drive the bus and trailer onto what appears to be a standard railway platform, which itself feels all sorts of wrong. Then we angle ourselves into a huge carriage, like driving into an incredibly tight bus garage. We can hear our aerial scraping on the carriage roof. Automatic doors close in front of us as we park. Then a gentle rock tells us the train is moving through the tunnel. It’s the oddest feeling, the bus suspension rolling with the train’s forward motion. We are on a bus on train under the sea. In what feels like minutes the doors open and we are driving the length of the train onto French soil. An incredible, seamless transportation system rendered useless by the arse-pain of the Brexit mandated carnet. Brexit — bad for business, bad for international cohesion, bad for Britain. Hurrah, you fucking rabble rousing villains. Those criminals have steered the ship of state onto the rocks for no reason other than self interest. No ordinary member of the public will ever benefit. Farage, Hannan, Gove, Cummings and Johnson should be charged with treason.
I roll into my bunk and read about the conservative majority US Supreme Court, how it’s tearing up long-established rights and politicising the institution to a terrifying extent. Climate chaos seems to be sending the right into a slash-and-burn frenzy, as if deep down they know the game is up. How far they will get before some of them find their heads on spikes is unknown. But if we don’t start jailing the criminals who are destroying our world, what do you think kids will do?
7 Responses to “To Amsterdam”
We are on a bus on a train under water. Sheer poetry. I bet Jimbo was ecstatic!
Anyone else keep saying No Surrender….
You could definitely produce a Book Of Bilge! Image of heads on stakes… could well be a Larson cartoon.
Facebook playing up, maybe it’s my device, tab at side is covering the ‘like’ button on Opposite View and can’t see my writing if trying to comment, the wonders of technology… gave up and came here instead…
Yes, this “chillout music” also gets on my nerves. It’s played in almost all chain shops, supermarkets and even sports clubs. I always think of earplugs to protect myself. I complain from time to time. This technical background noise or “brown sauce” hurts me in a strange way. It does something in your head. I try to neutralise it with my own earworm(s). That’s why I’m very happy and looking forward to feeding it very soon with real proper music and a wonderful voice. :,-
Aye we need to know all the condiments and all the contents of your brain! Love reading your tripe:)
Damn, Mr Currie. Please write a novel as long as it doesn’t interrupt your writing songs. Don’t feel too guilty about burning up some jet fuel to bring your music to another country. We all need to hear your message as well as your music.
Did you have broon sauce with your sausage roll?