6 clicks.. For the Endless Voyage: Worm

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 Dabbler’s own Worm, who is often to be found loitering.

I wake with a start as the woman pulls down the metal shutter on Claire’s Accessories. The neon signage casts a germolene light in the corner where I’m resting. Shouldering my bag (all liquids removed in preparation for boarding) I scuttle to the Wetherspoons, a sort of dark wooden portakabin with a blue and red swirly carpet. My pint of London Pride smells of eggs. Pret a Manger has closed, so if I’m going to eat my only choice is a sweaty baguette from the last open shop. I stare at the lattice of cables and metal ribs in the ceiling above. I’m a vector, nowhere. Rubbing my eyes, I fire up the laptop on the Wetherspoons free wifi and head over to bldgblog to take my mind off the beer.

A very popular website of architectural weirdness, bldgblog discusses all sorts of strange ideas about the habitable spaces of past and future, the interface between humans and the landscape, technology, geology and mythology. Lovers of JG Ballard, airports and empty suburban nightmares will find much to interest them here.

On the bench opposite an old man turns under his temporary newspaper blanket. I order a coffee to take away the taste of the beer and return to the screen. Things magazine continues further out into the web from where bldgblog left off. Things is a fascinating weekly list of curated links, each link taking you through a rabbit hole of weirdness and into ideas, images and places that you’d never previously imagined.

Bored, I traipse to the viewing area and stare out into the darkness beyond the glass, totally alone save the low pulse of the air conditioning units. Across the tarmac to a distant corner of the airfield I spot a rusted old aircraft hanger and a cluster of huts in the shadows. Wondering if they’re relics from WW2 I click on to 28dayslater to search for their details. 28DL is a website dedicated to the art of urban exploration – a phrase meant to legitimise the hobby of breaking into lost and hidden places of  interest and publishing the pictures on the internet for the curious to see whats out there, hidden in fields and in dark tunnels beneath our feet.

If you’d like to see abandoned tube stations, forgotten nuclear bunkers, derelict lunatic asylums, rusting submarines and crumbling themeparks, then 28dayslater will keep you occupied for hours on end.

WHSmiths is closed, and there’s nowhere for me to buy a newspaper. I’d like to catch up on some culture and a bit of current affairs, but the Times mocks me from behind it’s paywall and the Telegraph Online spirals ever downwards. Only one thing for it: Arts and Letters Daily, a highbrow round up of the really meaty arts, books, culture and politics articles to be found on the web, and a good riposte to those who accuse the internet of being a negative influence on quality content.

Back in departures a wiry african fellow chugs past with his giant floor cleaner and I shift on the uncomfortable seat. I feel a bit ill and I need to blot out the noise. I put in my headphones and flick to the In Our Time podcast.

For ipod listening, I have yet to find anything that can match In Our Time’s chimeric versatility. If you are wide awake and full of beans, a discussion about 19thC german composers or Hengist can be an absolutely riveting way to get through 45 empty minutes – but conversely, if you are tired and want to go to sleep, there can surely be nothing on earth more coma-inducing than a calm 45 minute discussion about an obscure mathematical equation. For that reason In Our Time is an indispensable travel companion.

I drift into fitful sleep to the sound of Melvyn’s lugubrious drawl, unable to hear the cascades of the departure board as the tickers all tumble over, every one of them blank.

Share This Post

About Author Profile: Worm

In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.

16 thoughts on “6 clicks.. For the Endless Voyage: Worm

  1. Gaw
    February 24, 2011 at 15:16

    Some truly fascinating links, there. And I wanted you to continue – it reads like the start of a rather dark and intriguing novel!

  2. Worm
    February 24, 2011 at 15:25

    thanks G – I suppose there’s definately the opportunity to create a hellish modern version of robinson crusoe where a person is stranded in a never ending departure lounge.

    JG Ballard did something similar with his story Concrete Island

    edit: discounting of course the totally rubbish Tom Hanks movie ‘The Terminal’

  3. law@mhbref.com'
    jonathan law
    February 24, 2011 at 15:40

    I hope you’re proud of ‘germolene light’ — very good; that really has the authentic whiff of the inferno.

    But shouldn’t a decent pint always taste very slightly of eggs?

  4. Worm
    February 24, 2011 at 16:17

    I don’t know Jonathan, I know that people like proper cornish types seem to enjoy their scrumpy when it is redolent of silage and dead rats, but I’d always associated the eggy thing with beer thats been sitting in the pipes too long? but then I am not really a hardened real ale drinker

  5. bugbrit@live.com'
    Banished To A Pompous Land
    February 24, 2011 at 17:07

    I’ve changed a barrel or two in my time, raised as I was in various pubs, and I’m inclined to think that eggy odour arises from lingering pipe cleansing solution. Don’t stress, its merely caustic.

    I once saved an entire Certain Ants performance in Copenhagen by being the only person in the venue who could change a barrel of Carlsberg behind the bar.

  6. Gaw
    February 24, 2011 at 21:37

    I’ve got a feeling that in airports the eggy taste is something we bring to the beer. Possibly a chemical reaction to the germolene light!

  7. zmkc@ymail.com'
    February 25, 2011 at 03:24

    Yes, yes, keep going – I want to know how it ends (and, if you want my advice, watch out for that man under the temporary newspaper blanket – he is not what he seems.)

  8. fchantree@yahoo.co.uk'
    Gadjo Dilo
    February 25, 2011 at 04:48

    Excellent selection, worm – that 28dayslater is right up my passage. I wish I could hear Melvyn out here.

    • Worm
      February 25, 2011 at 08:59

      but gadjo – you CAN listen to Melvyn over there! (waves fairy godmother magic wand)

      just download itunes onto your computer, fire it up, go to the itunes store, click on ‘podcasts’ then search for ‘in our time’ and then you will have access to all of the IOT shows for free, to listen to at your leisure!

      • fchantree@yahoo.co.uk'
        Gadjo Dilo
        February 27, 2011 at 06:42

        …in the comfort of my own potting shed?? OK, worm, I’m gonna try that! Though, the last time I tried something similar – it started with a lower-case ‘i’ – I was brusquely informed that it was not available in ‘my’ country. Are they afraid I’m gonna steal Melvyns’s soul, or summat?

  9. john.hh43@googlemail.com'
    john halliwell
    February 25, 2011 at 07:47

    Like Gadjo, I loved 28dayslater. My first exploratory click found Whittingham Mental Hospital in Goosnargh, Preston; its size was astonishing: by 1939 it had 3533 patients and a staff of 548. The photos are excellent. Fascinating site. Thanks, Worm.

    I hope you break out of the hell you describe so graphically, and remember when you do, your recovery to full health could be helped by a stay in that place at Goosnargh, as long as you don’t mind each midnight being marked by the echoing, ghostly shouts of anguish, sudden uncontrolled wailing, the occasional violent clash of hard objects, and the voice of utter despair shouting “Where’s the bloody key to the broom cupboard?” But then Birmingham Airport’s just like that, isn’t it?

    • Worm
      February 25, 2011 at 09:26

      it’s true, there’s so much cool stuff to be found on 28DL! My favourite section is ‘military sites’ as I love old airfields and things like that

      Birmingham airport is great!! I use it all the time and it’s my favorite airport (if you can have such a thing as a favourite airport?)

  10. Brit
    February 25, 2011 at 10:28

    Great stuff, Worm.

    I entirely share your opinion on In Our Time. It lurches pleasingly from the gripping (especially if there’s a bit of a scrap between the boffins) to the quite stupifyingly boring.

  11. info@shopcurious.com'
    February 25, 2011 at 14:41

    Brilliant, Worm. Love your trashy, rude awakening – in contrast with the highbrow links you’ve chosen – although you do nod off to (Not) In Our Time. ‘chimeric versatility’ aptly sums it up and what a suitably posey pic of the appropriately named host. Arts and Letters daily looks interesting – will take a browse. Lovely writing and fun to read.

    • Worm
      February 25, 2011 at 15:12

      glad you liked it Susan – especially as I was worried about the ‘blokiness’ of all those bunkers and science fiction! Arts and Letters Daily is a truly great website for people who enjoy proper writing on the web, in fact I would be amazed to meet a dabbler who didn’t like it

  12. Chris.Almond@elliott-algeco.com'
    March 1, 2011 at 12:04

    I bumped into your blog because of your use of the word “Portakabin” (yes I lead a sad life), anyway I had a look at that BLDG Blog it’s brilliant! Cheers.

Comments are closed.