E2 and Jay are coming home from their trip to London. Hooray!
I am happy to be meeting my friends. I am less happy about the fact that I am standing in the Arrivals Lounge at Belfast International Airport, watching my breath form clouds in front of me and wistfully pretending I am smoking a cigarette. ‘Lounge’ is perhaps too generous a word. It is in fact more of an extension of Outside, with a roof, a couple of plastic chairs nailed to the wall, a vending machine that earns a living by stealing money, and a little screen to tell you exactly how late all the flights are going to be.
I always forget how extremely toe-freezingly cold it is in this place. It is actually colder than the Real Outside! This is a mystery that has often puzzled me, but as I seem to have spent an awful lot of time here lately, waiting for various friends and relatives, I have had the good fortune of being able to observe the situation and work out why it is so. The answer: automatic doors. They fly open if someone so much as entertains the thought of walking past them, or maybe just glances in their direction. Every time this happens, a gust of icy Outside air blasts in, and – because it’s being pushed in with force by the doors – carries with it a wind chill factor that you wouldn’t experience if you were just standing outside in ordinary Outside cold conditions.
I hop from foot to foot to stave off frostbite and maintain the circulation in my legs, as I need them in order to be able to drive home. I finish my third imaginary cigarette, and eye up a passing traveller who has a sexy, dishevelled look going on. He looks strangely at me and I panic for a moment that I have suddenly and inconveniently sprouted a white hair from my chin or something. Then I realise that I’m jumping around on the spot, smoking invisible cigarettes and coming up with clever theories about automatic doors in my head whilst staring distractedly at him in a way that could quite possibly be coming across as intimidating. He is perfectly entitled to glare defensively at me. I’d judge him if he didn’t, to be honest.
I am relieved to see Jay and E2 skipping towards me. Happily, I receive a lovely (warm) double hug and we leave the Amazingly Pointless Automatic Doors behind us forever. Or at least until the next pick-up. I ponder some of the advertising slogans I have come up with for automatic doors. Automatic doors: it’s just like being outside! That’s my favourite one.