Saturday, 8 January 2011

In bed with Osama Bin Laden

I'm writing this at Liverpool Airport on my way back to Spain to see the lovely Nina for a couple of months before the ride starts in March. I hate Liverpool Airport. It feels like its managed by two competing teams from The Apprentice, each trying to outdo the other in finding the most depressing way to winkle cash out of me. A series of visits to its check-in area is like a very slow game of Musical Chairs. Each time you turn up, yet another one of the seats has been removed. There are now six left in the whole of Arrivals. The other chairs around the place are in restaurants or bars where you're supposed to be spending. The management don't realise it's just a transport hub. Their vision for the future is Bluewater run by Donald Trump and Al Capone.

No money making scheme is more sinister than its priority security service. For four quid you can bypass their seventeen mile long queue to get speedier access to the airport's high security fondling department, a queue that's only as long as it is because of the extra measures since 9/11, and their only employing about three staff. By charging for queue-jumping, Liverpool Aiport is in effect profiting from the effects of terrorism. It's not quite as in your face as an organised suicide bombathon but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Which, incidentally, is what you get if you do decide to take a seat at one of their restaurants.

In 2008, when it was the European City of Culture, Liverpool traded a little too enthusiastically on its connection with The Beatles. You would have thought that aside from the Fab Four nothing of cultural value had ever happened there. But wait, there's Stan Boardman from the 1980s, a man whose comic repetoire consisted entirely of mispronouncing the word Germans as Jaymins, there's Scouse foghorn Cilla Black and not forgetting Stock, Aitken and Waterman's fuzzy ginger shite-puppet Sonia. If all a city needs is a half-decent band, singers you'd rather not hear again and a dodgy comedy act, then Inspiral Carpets, Mark Owen and Cannon & Ball should ensure that 2012's European City of Culture is awarded to Oldham.

So, given Liverpool's dependence on all things moptop, it was inevitable the airport would also be given a Beatles flavour. In 2002, it was renamed John Lennon International Airport, which comedian Ed Byrne reckons is ideal because "that's the first place Lennon fucked off to once he'd made some money". There used to be a Lennonesque white grand piano in the departure lounge but it was taking up good space that could be better served with yet another chain selling coffee at four quid a cup and so it had to go. Besides someone had prised one of the keys off it. And it may have been up on bricks at one point but I could just be infusing past memories with Liverpudlian stereotypes. But the biggest reason for moving it was its piano stool. It might have given me the chance to sit somewhere for free.

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