Last week I experienced the horror of Stansted Airport. I had paid for a fast track through security to avoid the hell of standing in a queue for an hour behind people grappling to put their haemorrhoid cream and K-Y Jelly into a see-though bag and struggling to the conveyor belt with their trousers around their ankles.
My flight being massively delayed, I set off for a restaurant named The Bridge where the food was so bad I began to wish it was an actual bridge from which I could throw myself off. Of course, the bit of egg and bacon I ordered cost more than my flight (I was flying Outdoor Toilet Airlines). ‘Tell us if you do not have much time to go to your boarding gate and we will guarantee your food within 15 minutes’ read the notice by the restaurant entrance. An easy pledge for the waiters to honour, as a number of largely untouched plates were being returned to the kitchen – and possibly delivered to unsuspecting customers. Mine tasted as if it had been eaten and regurgitated.
Once I’d walked the significant distance from security to the so-called lounge, my sandals needed replacing. My trip to the shops, where I planned to replenish my lesbian-themed wardrobe, was, however, unsuccessful, as most were closed for refurbishment. Left with the option of standing up in a heaving Pret, I opted to sit and work on the floor among the young people asleep on their rucksacks. I signed in to the free Wifi, only to find that the signal was as weak as a still-born kitten. Wandering around with my laptop in the air, I found the best connection was outside the shop selling London memorabilia.
After an hour of trying to write but instead developing a grim fascination observing tourists buying policemen made of cheap chocolate, I gave up and headed to Weatherspoon, where I did the only thing sensible in the midst of chaos and delay. I got pissed enough to endure the purgatory that comes with the airport experience. No wonder staycations are growing in popularity.
Julie Bindel is the author of Straight Expectations: What Does It Mean To Be Gay Today? (Guardian Books)