Where do you stand on early morning airport drinking?
Are you one of the people who walks past the bar with their nose in the air thinking: "Just look at that. How can they? A pint and a whisky chaser at 6am. Are they BARBARIANS?”
Or are you one of the other ones, the good time Charlies, the ones who believe the party starts the minute they have checked in their bag?
I’m one of the miserable types. I walk past the drinkers wheeling my carry-on bag, clutching my boarding pass and passport, in search of coffee. And then I try to choose a spot near an information board so I can can keep abreast of developments.
I need to know which boarding gate and when it’s open the minute it goes up on that board.
Not an atom of my being is in “relaxed, holiday mode” because, truth to tell, I’m not very good at holidays.
Maybe things will change because, it turns out, the biggest airport drinkers are not young blokes on their way to tear up Ibiza, but women over 65.
This granny group knocks back up to eight units of alcohol before a flight, while many younger blokes don’t catch so much as a sniff of the barmaid’s apron. So I’ve all that to come.
My view is that people shouldn’t be checking up on women over 65. This age group was, traditionally, invisible to wider society and able to get away with all kinds of questionable behaviour without criticism. Now there are people tailing their every move. It’s not fair.
Anyway, for we sober ones, being as tense as a coiled spring doesn’t necessarily result in efficiency, because me and my mother still found ourselves about to board the party plane to Magaluf, when we actually thought we were heading for Budapest.
The only reason we were saved from being included on a rolling programme of hen parties was that the flight attendant lost patience and suddenly bawled out: “If you don’t all shut up, no one is going to Magaluf.” How our eyes widened.
I mention it because airport behaviour is a good barometer of a person’s attitude to holidays in general, I believe.
My airport behaviour reveals that I am no fun. On holiday I am a ball of anxiety, always trying to do the right thing, get the most out of the experience, and you can tell that merely by observing the way I head for the coffee at the airport.
The airport drinkers, now, they are much better companions.
These are the people who book all-inclusive holidays, and take full advantage of any food and drink that crosses their path.
They are up for the cocktail of the day, they see food and eat it, and decide to deal with the consequences later.
These people don’t care if they never leave the grounds of their hotel, if they don’t check out the local church, if they can’t say please and thank you in the local language and if they never get to try the regional delicacy.
These people are clear in their objective, and that objective is to leave normal life behind and enjoy one helluva trip. And get a tan. And maybe a beach massage. And have their hair braided. And their nails done. They are good holidaymakers and they know how to paddle in the shallows of life.
We people who drink coffee in the airport, we’re different. We don’t want to feel like tourists, we want to “blend in”. We want to see all that is meaningful. We want to get up early to make the most of the time and hit the streets armed with a map and an itinerary. We want to eat where the locals eat, and order coffee the way they drink it, and in their language. If we have a massage it has to be at a place and in a manner enjoyed by the native people. If that involves being rubbed with salt and rolled in snow, so be it.
This is all a great deal of work and when we get back we, basically, need a holiday. So before you turn your nose up at the airport drinkers think – they could be right.