I’m currently sat in Frankie and Benny’s, a franchised food restaurant in the departure area of Manchester airport and I am dumbstruck by the people I see walking past me. Normally just seeing airport prices, let alone paying them would send me off on some rant about how if they can afford to charge one price in The Moon Under Water on Deansgate, why do you have to inflate the prices just because your market is captured. But no, it’s the sartorial mish-mash that has caught my eye today.
It’s only in times of refelction such as this that one can trully appreciate the lengths that people go to (or don’t it would seem) to get themselves ready. When I go to work, I try to dress normally. This is by way of an example to the teachers on what they too can get away with and also stops me being laughed at by the students and admin staff. The one day I didn’t take my sunglasses off before entering the building caused me so much grief I’ve hardly worn them since.
The people here are heading for a foreign destination, and that seems to persuade huge numbers of them to immediately prepare for the beach. I can only assume that the minute they step off the plane they will hail a taxi and say “saya mau pantai” (take me to the beach) and forgo the whole checking-in stage at the hotel. Then again, maybe they’re the most pragmatic people in the world and are choosing to dress appropriately in case of a crash. Interestingly, any of these beach bums heading for Jakarta are in for a rude awakening when they find out how far away the beach is!
Other people are more soberly dressed, maybe hoping for a free upgrade (is this just an urban myth by the way?) still, I’m not convinced that a shirt and tie with a suit is the most comfortable way to fly, and especially not with the grandkids in tow!
Then there are the normal ones, the ones who have planned for every eventuality, but watching them is no fun. No, my favourites are ‘the others’. The select bunch who are choosing to make a statement with their dress code. Maybe they are just overly ostentatious. Maybe a day at the airport is the best opportunity that these people have to let their hair down, close their eyes and let their wardrobes decide on their look. Whatever it is, it brightens up the day of any casual people watcher.
It would appear that practicality goes out of the window in favour of cat walk etiquette. That or the ‘i’ll just come out in my pyjamas’ look, or the ‘today Manchester Airport, tomorrow Jeremy Kyle’ look or my favourite one of all the ‘it looked good on the model so it must look good on my obese arse’ style.
Yes people watching could also be renamed as ‘Things you see when you don’t have a gun’. This is much more in keeping and all coming from a guy in hiking boots, jeans and a Hong Kong Phooey t-shirt!! But I have pockets, you see. When I reached the check-in desk and the lady contradicted the website and told me “only one piece of handluggage is allowed” those pockets would have come in handy for emptying out the second piece of handluggage had I not been able to win her around with my natural charm and teary-eyed begging. Where would I have put the wasabi biscuits and pork scratchings if all I was wearing was a plunge necked see-through kaftan over a thong, topped off with a trilby?
No, it’s all about keeping up appearances, but for who? They don’t know the other people at the airport. They’re not going to suddenly meet Susan and Rob coming the other way down the concourse thinking “aren’t I glad NOW that I chose to wear this balerinas pink tutu with the leopard skin print bra under the white chiffon smock with the ‘daddy’s girl’ baseball cap” (all of these I saw at the airport today, I’m not kidding).