To Gatwick and beyond
My cabbie offers me a pellet of chewing gum, perhaps reacting to the reek of last night’s garlic. I accept and take pity on him and open a window. Glasgow is glittering in August light as we cross the Kingston bridge, the new Hydro – almost complete – nestling amongst its silver sisters like an old-fashioned idea of a spaceship.
The airport teems with holidaymakers and a smattering of Scotland fans on their way to Wembley to meet the Auld Enemy in a friendly. Their kilts sway above white woollen socks and Timberlands, the footwear of choice for the marching Tartan Army. I sense the odd look of disgust cast furtively in my direction. That soppy little poof disnae get it wi’ his maudlin shite. So be it. I give off a faint air of disdain. Come on, Scotland? Come ON Scotland.
The country slides below us in a dream. The autopilot engineers the softest of landings and I head to the carousel and hook my instruments from the belt. A monorail takes me and my gear to the north terminal where I trek for a time to find any sort of chair as I wait for bag drop to open. Travelling heavy, I could do the gig right here, like a hoofer in a Hollywood musical.
I’m in transit to Bordeaux to play a show for an ex-pat down there, Andrew Davies, a renegade from the record business. I have no idea what is about to occur – triumph or catastrophe – and that is part of the fun. My man-manager, John, is accompanying me with a few old CDs. I feel like I’m stepping back in time to the US tour of ’86, hawking, touting and panhandling.
Gatwick is the poor relation of London airports, dim and grey and heaving with hideous retail. They’re building bits of it so that even the transit lounge is in transition. I wander listlessly through shops, fingering the lifeless merchandise for something to do. Salesmen hover in their sinister manner, children dab manically at gadgets as the great mass of passengers circles in an exasperated daydream. Tinny pop music rains from every outlet seducing the tin-eared and repelling the rational. Seats are at a premium but shops are seemingly enjoying a surfeit.
The call comes and we hike to our gate borne by a series of moving walkways, drifting like blank ghosts. The plane rises through the layer of dun smog into the glaring sunshine and sails out over the Channel, scored beneath us by loose caravans of container ships bearing gifts from the East, no doubt – jeans and jewellery for the habitués of the high street. The Easyjet eases south, France’s fields stretched out below in all directions. Air travel is an enormous adventure and yet it fills us with ennui. We’re spoilt beyond belief. We’re the best-of-both-world brats trashing the planet for a laugh and a bleeding blog.
Below my window a great river snakes towards the Atlantic sparkling in the lowering sun. That reflective feeling wells up in me, the way it does with a window seat. Air travel like alcohol leaves the world behind. Burdens lift and the tension slackens. I am bound for somewhere else and somewhere else is always better than somewhere the same. I am lucky and we lurch a little and come in to land.
5 Responses to “To Gatwick and beyond”
I have been a slave to you and the Dels since I first heard you on the radio in 89′ out in LA…Writing songs for the clinically melancholy is like shooting fish in a barrel for you. Your songs are sweet and timeless and a poison that you can only sip; any more and you fall farther into the heart wrenching pillowy blackness…Comforting, and yet almost too deep to pull yourself out of. I think Little Stars is the best thing you have ever written. Its a death march you just wanna go on! I couldn’t help it, I called my ex, cause she knows a am a huge fan of yours, and had her listen to it. I thought she was going to slit her fucking wrists! But alas, no….Anyway, I have a challenge for you. You have conquered the world’s saddies many times over. You won. We all think that life is a big exercise in futility. Its time to move on. You are one of the best writers in a generation. And through all the self deprecation and self effacement, you know it too. I know your feelings about Scotland and The Crown. You almost got your way last summer…. Write Scotland’s Emancipation Proclamation. Put it in every pub you play. Put it to song or just slap it on the walls. Its in you.
I remain your faithful servant and slave,
p.s. if you already wrote one, well then, excuse me, what do I know,..Im just an American.
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Not sure which one I prefer, whisky breath or garlic breath. I think out of the two I’d prefer garlic. If I had a window seat I certainly wouldn’t be looking out especially if there was water beneath me.
” … brats trashing the planet for a laugh and a bleeding blog” – brilliant. thanks.