If you have ever been lucky enough to have travelled through any old market town in, of or around the good old United Kingdom, there’s a very strong likelihood there could and would more than likely be a weekly cattle market or similar still being held there of a weekend and it is in such places you will get to see all nature of domesticated farm animals being herded through and around turnstiles leading them to either an end of the road knackers yard bolt gun thing to assist in dispatching the poor animal or an auction ring of some sort whereby the hapless creatures would be sold and led off to pastures new, only to be fattened up in time for their future journeys down the gated corridors of the local abattoirs in order to at best meet their makers or more commonly, some untalented chef’s warming pan.
Yes there are indeed still places around the world like this where modern life can still imitate what happened in times of yore in these olde worlde bastions of fenced off-ed-ness. Take for instance our post offices draped floor to ceiling with what can only be classed as Olympic grade hurdles, jumps and fences or even better still the average way we are greeted in today’s airports. Which have us being herded individually through man-made turnstiles; makeshift barrier-tape corridors and endless queuing systems deliberately laid before us to either completely naff us off or prove the scope for even more red tape and its inherent delays from the powers that be on our inward or outward bound journeys.
Never mind the fact we have spent the last three hundred years or so fighting for the abolition of slavery or forcing our leaders to adopt a better stance on the rights of the world’s population and his dog, but it is airports to me that appear to have been sorely overlooked in this matter. I mean, right from the very offset, we are channelled through check in; a ticket collection, passport control, luggage sorting affair type obstacle course we are forced one by one to cross in carefully manufactured and manipulated lines.
And having got thus far, we have committed ourselves to a further funnelling through even more channels specifically designed to arrest any would be terrorists from leaving our shores and wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting world. And if by chance you should make it past these guys of border control, you are rewarded for your tenacious herding abilities by being allowed to spread about a little as you graze on the offerings of the great god Duty Free in a last ditch attempt from the presiding government to stop you draining the county’s resources by taking all their precious currency away with you.
And it doesn’t even stop there. Within just seconds of leaving the inshore tax havens of the duty free shop, we are finally freed (of a fashion) of our captive boundaries as we are left to spread aimlessly about in a millionaires’ utopia of designer coffee shops, newsagents, and bespoke suppliers of last minute, exorbitantly priced dress items for those who had previously left the house without their socks no doubt. This host of lifesaver superstores preying on their captive client base like vultures hovering the skies around an empty oasis. Bleeding us all dry of what little hard earned we might have after forking out for our fortnight in the sun.
And why have the airports gotten away with this for so long you may ask. We don’t usually tolerate being treated in such a Guantanamo Bay fashion. But because we are finally on our jollies, Those two weeks in the foreign sun that have probably cost us more than two months in overtime to afford, we simply don’t seem to give a shit and allow the airlines full privileges to abuse us in that manner. And besides, getting through the herding mechanisms of most airports has to remain to be easier than finding an easy exit to your local Ikea furniture store. At the very least there remains a slight possibility that when push comes to shove, there is a good chance you will eventually make your way back home intact from the airport. Nonetheless it was the airport I was at and I was about to board flight number EK 0020 to Dubai. I was finally on my way….