In our occasional feature we invite guests to select the six cultural links that might sustain them if, by some mischance, they were forced to spend eternity in a succession of airport departure lounges with only an iPad or similar device for company.
Today’s voyager is The Wartime Housewife, who dispenses poetry, recipes and excellent sense from her eponymous blog.
I was brought up on the outskirts of Heathrow Airport and we saw planes flying over us all day every day and I have never lost that sense of wonder about how they stayed up there and where they were going. Even now, when I go home, we all bounce up and down as the brightly coloured tails appear round corners and Terminal 5 hoves into view, lit up in the dark like a great liner on a sea of tarmac.
For a couple of years I worked for the engineering company that was overseeing the refurbishment of Terminal 3. I would frequently take my lunch into the terminal, just to sit and watch. People excited, people bewildered, people waiting excitedly for others to land, people weary from travelling. I loved to engage travellers in conversation and listen to their stories about holidays, work trips, family visits and optimistic strides into the unknown.
Before I had a car, when I went into London, I always had to get the bus to Heathrow in order to get on The Tube. A gay friend and I decided to go into town one night (on a work night, I must add) and hit the gay nightclubs. For some reason that is lost now behind the heavy curtains of the past, we decided to go dressed as a bride and groom. I wore a full length white tule dress and veil with punk make-up, and he wore a sombre grey morning suit and top hat. It was the 80s.
We had a ball and at 3.30am, worn out with dancing, we caught the night bus back to Heathrow. Sadly there was no connecting bus to take us home until 7am. We had to be at work at 8.30. The only option was to walk to Terminal 2, grab a coffee, then have a kip for a couple of hours until the bus was due. We lay down on benches and fell asleep. I woke up to hear an old lady saying to someone, “Oh what a shame, what a lovely couple, must have missed their flight, what a terrible shame!” and when we rubbed our eyes and sat up, the lady had left us coffee and croissants. I was in my work clothes and at my desk at 8.30. My companion was not.
If I was stuck eternally in an airport I would need music, books, the odd DVD and plenty of them. My taste is very broad and I am inclined to odd spikes of melancholy so I would want things to cater for various emotional states. I get so passionate about things that I find it hard to narrow it down to six of any one genre. But as I am limited to six, Kirsty, these would be my choices, in no particular order:-
I nearly chose Haydn’s ‘The Creation’ but then I remembered some arias within Figaro that make me sob with joy and I would probably sing bits out loud to earn a few farthings for a cup of tea..
2. ‘The Queen is Dead’ by The Smiths
This is one album that I never get sick of. I love the words and Morrisey’s languid voice and there are quick songs and slow songs and it reminds me of my 20s.
3. Robin Hood – Men in Tights
This film never fails to make me laugh and I practically know every word of dialogue. Mel Brookes at his genius best. Apparently he made it after seeing ‘Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves’. When Robin lands on the beach and kisses the ground, Brookes said loudly to his wife “Where does he think he is? Coney Island?” and she suggested he make a spoof. Cary Elwes is the best Robin Hood ever AND “he can speak with an English accent!”
4. Foyles War
Michael Kitchen is one of those actors who can act without saying or doing anything. I find this period of history fascinating and the stories, by Anthony Horowitz, are always engaging and exciting. I enjoy the dynamics between Foyle, Sam and Milner and the back story of the moral and practical difficulties of life during wartime.
5. The Andrews Sisters
My sisters and I used to do a cabaret act where we dressed up as the Andres Sisters and sang the songs in 3-part harmony. If I was stranded for a long time, I would learn all the parts and the dances to all the songs. I love these songs and it’s impossible to listen to them and not feel cheerful. I saw Patti Andrews at the Festival Hall in London years ago and she was still wonderful.
Wuthering Heights is an astonishing book. It explores themes such as nature v. nurture, the repercussions of child neglect, the cruelty of the young, and what happens when passion gets out of control. How a vicar’s daughter from Howarth summoned up the grotesque and nihilistically volatile characters of Cathy and Heathcliffe is beyond me. Every time I read it, I see different things and understand different things.