I'd bet my last rupee that there hasn't been a farmhouse for many a long year on the site where Gatwick Airport now stands, so it always puzzles me when I see the words 'Gatwick Farmhouse Breakfast' on the menu in its classy, jetsetter, greasy spoon café. I can't even imagine that anybody who works there can get their head round the concept of anything more rural than the weeds that grow on the central reservation of the nearby M23. What would they know about farmhouses? And what’s traditional and farmhousey about a latte anyway? It’s a pretentious stab at being twee to distract gullible airline travellers from the cold and sterile concrete and steel that surrounds them. Gatwick Airport people want their clientele to think that Gatwick Airport is as nice as the place they are flying off to but it would take much more than a hot sausage and a 40p sachet of HP brown sauce to convince me that somewhere just up the road from East Grinstead was more exotic than anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of Luton Airport.
I always try to avoid flying from Gatwick when I'm planning an overseas trip. It's an awkward place to get to and it's a dirty and ugly place. Coincidentally, the people who work there tend to be awkward, dirty and ugly too in my opinion. I do suspect that really they are quite charming folk deep down but working where they do has soured their normally sweet personae. Travelling, for me, is the cherry on the cake of my privileged life. Sadly though, Gatwick turns that cherry into a nasty glacé one that is meant to look nice but is all sugary and artificial.
However, every cloud has a silver lining, and in this respect I feel that everybody's favourite little West Sussex aerodrome can at times enhance my joyous mood, more so than most points of departure. After I have arrived at any airport, dumped my car, dumped my bag, dumped the contents of my digestive system (worrying about forgetting my passport, foreign currency, bottle opener, Tetley tea bags or Union Jack shorts is the perfect cure for constipation) and cleared the security scrutiny, my mind and body slide effortlessly into a giant pool of serenity where they stay until I reach the same stage on the homeward journey. It's as if the greater intensity of the Gatwick anxiety heightens the intensity of the post anxiety serenity.
Today I felt so serene that I didn't even feel the need to have my now customary and legendary, traditional start-of-trip pint of Guinness.
My favourite bit of Gatwick Airport.