Air is good.
As long as it isn’t freshened, hot, tight or conditioned.
1. Freshened Air
Christmas trees. Smiley faces. Cherries. It doesn’t matter what the pretty cut out picture is … fact is that all air fresheners smell the same; sickly, soapy, fruity gak. Am not sure how people can call them air fresheners. They should be known as air abuser/asthma enticing /throat chokers. I had to sit in the taxi on the way to Gatwick with one swinging two centre metres from my face and it was upsetting. Especially as Ads, Pix and Roo were in the back playing top-trumps whilst I was nasally gassed with air freshener and orally gassed by …
2. The Taxi Driver’s Hot Air
So, I mentioned the mobile phone sitting on his dashboard.
What followed was a rant about mobile phone companies, his son’s phone contract, his son’s life story and his step son’s work and relationship history. Long story short, Nathan – 21 – had returned from 3 months of bar work in Greece and was now in Scotland doing a training course whilst Lee – 29 and has control issues – is a carpenter, kitchen fitter, electrician and plumber who has issues with his wife who he has been with since he was 14 and has two children with, but is now planning on training as a policeman. Taxi Driver on the other hand, had a great childhood and began working in a factory young, but drew a short straw (literally), was moved to different department, hated it and left after four hours, went to work in a clothing store, was moved to different branch in Doncaster into a shop which – shocks of shocks – didn’t even have a changing room. Joined the army, did 16 years, later became a computer engineer, fixed computers in schools, then worked for council as a business advisor, left to do a degree in Mathematics so he could become a maths teacher and drove taxis in between to earn extra dollar. By the time we arrived at the Marriot Hotel at Gatwick the conversation had come full circle with the ins and outs of how Taxi Driver’s ex-wife abandoned both boys (she had two new kids with new bloke – a policeman) so our man became a single dad, brought Nathan a mobile phone nine years ago and that was the mobile phone lying on the dashboard that the whole conversation had started over.
He then dropped us off and expected a tip.
I walked away.
“You encouraged him,” Ads accused me the moment we got inside the hotel.
I was on the verge of being sick from combined air pollution but managed to splutter, “You’re right. But did you hear what he said?”
I took some long, deep lungfuls of hotel reception air and then proceeded to tell Ads about the bit where Taxi Driver worked in the mines. I asked what the air was like down there. He said it depended on which part you were in, but the air was a constant temperature and it was humid, oppressive and muggy. He said that if someone ate an orange 3 miles away underground, you could smell it.
I don’t know if he was telling the truth or completely mad.
But I liked that idea about air.
Undisturbed, it holds the smell of oranges.
That’s beautiful. You know?
3. Air Tight Rooms
Book in at reception and trudge upstairs with kids and luggage, ready to chill but on opening room door am immediately hit with arctic wall of air conditioning.
Fight to reach bed, unzip bags and throw on hoodie whilst Roo somehow manages to turn the entire air con system off. Quite impressive for a seven year old. After a visit to the bar where we do art, return to room for nice night’s sleep before early morning flight to Marrakech … and go to sleep. Wake at four in morning and am hit with terrible realisation that air con was probably only source of air in this totally airtight box of a room.
Unlike Isle of Wight where everything is Victorian and has draughty sash windows and the air is laced with salt and goodness, we are now in technological, futuristic world of mainland hotels where windows don’t open, are tinted so you cannot see the fume-crusted industrial estate outside and they like to keep air dry so that weird mainland viruses don’t spread. Lye in darkness like hero lost in Sahara, swallowing hard and trying to moisten the dust dry patch in the back of throat. Eventually can handle it no longer and reach out – crime of crimes – for v expensive bottle of Marriot mineral water to quench dryness.
It’s £4.95 a bottle.
Ads will faint.
5. Air Conditioning
Is the air you breathe in aeroplanes REAL? I don’t know. I think it could be quite synthetic. Like Kentucky Fried Oxygen. Or cheese-burger cheese slice oxygen. All I know is that when I squidged out of my chair mid-flight to stagger down the aisle and take a breath of solitude in the toilet, I looked in the mirror and my skin was wrinkled like a saggy old party balloon.
Skins breathes too.
We forget this.
Key point: Skin and lungs are both breathing apparatus. That is why asthma and eczema are so closely interlinked. Having travelled with such appalling air conditions over the last few days, I am sure that my lungs were as distraught as my facial skin. SO. Over the next week I plan to de-wrinkle face with exceptionally interesting and culture infused air: Atlas mountain air, sunshine filtered air and air heavy with smells of mouth-watering Moroccan cuisine. Admittedly, I’m also partial to polluted air too; smoky fires in Berber houses, petrol from motorbikes on hot motorways, diesel fumes from beaten up old cars as we rock along on some horse and cart in the swelter …
May add more as I find them.
Feel free to add your own suggestions too.
What’s your favourite sort of air?