I spend quite a lot of time at airports of late. The fact that my work colleagues have started referring to me as Judith Chalmers has not escaped me.
I think I've almost mastered the art of the travelling alone; in fact I think I've almost mastered the art of looking like I know what I'm doing; sauntering casually wandering through the airport with the air of someone who is frankly a traveling hipster (complete with sushi and coffee).
I had a kindle (note the past tense - I also left said kindle in security - apologies if that caused any unnecessary alarms) so now I arm myself with the traditional paperback at the flight gate and do one of my favourite things.
Airports have to be the ultimate place to bring together all manner of people - all crammed together on one tiny space for a period of time with No Escape.
There's The Suit. The ultimate business traveler. Still wearing his suit, he wanders up and down the airport lounge talking with an air of importance on his mobile wishing he had enough business expenses to travel first class.
Then there's always The fraught. The ubiquitous traveling family. Fraught with bickering children, errant husbands and the possibility that the technology may run out before the actual plane journey starts combining to make the start of most holidays for the average family stressful. Throw in a screaming 2 year old and a lost blankie and there's grounds for a full on melt down - and that's just mum.
Enter The weekenders. The group of boys - when I say boys - I mainly mean older men. Seasoned travellers on the return home from a weekend away from responsibility. Seasoned travellers who of course don't try and kill each other on a Ryan Air flight but who may have spend four days reliving their youth. Seasoned travellers who now look like former shadows of themselves after a few days on a boys weekend.
The Smug smiles serenely at the chaos around them and thanks their lucky stars they are The Smug. The Smug is a modern day traveller cruising from destination to destination. They embrace the epitome of airplane etiquette. Headphones at the ready, iPhone fully charged, music ready to play and a travelling Mac a constant companion. Ready and all tech'd up to cope with the curiosities of cruising through an airport. Until of course the Internet connection fails and then The Smug resembles a poor broken lost puppy.
And then my pet airport hate. The PDA couple. The snuggling couple - they can be any age; young or old; but grouped together by their need to constantly show each other how much they love being together in an airport watched by thousands of people. Breezing through the airport with a 'love is' cloud wavering above their heads as they consistently stop to share a kiss, a snuggle and maybe take a selfie to show the world (beyond the airport) how much in love they are, these people need a room of their own at airports.
And finally there's me. The pretender. Head burrowed in a book, constantly checking travel documents, trying to appear nonchalant, wondering if my passport has managed to become out of date since the last time I checked, wondering if my lost kindle is going to mean we all have to evacuate the airport. I'm always the one in the line for the full body search (when will I learn to take my bracelet off) and I always sit a bit too close to the flight departure boards so I can mainly stare at it and pray the flight leaves on time otherwise I'm gonna be late getting the kids (again).
I thought I had it all nailed. I thought I knew all the groups in the airport lounge. I knew what to expect. I knew all the different idiosyncrasies of the people that populate the airport lounge.
And then I got on the plane. And sat next to The Snircher.
The Snircher sniffed, snirched and snotted throughout the entire journey.
Rubbing his sleeve across his nose that only a 15 year old on a school trip seems to think it's acceptable to do, he then ordered olives (obviously from south manchester) and played on his phone in airplane mode.
And snirched with such wild abandon that he nearly ended up being forced through the airplane window (by me). And then he got up - I thought he might have been going to get a tissue - but no, he just wanted to snirch at his mate in the next row - and I noticed he had tracksuit bottoms falling off his non existent butt showing his feckin underpants which I did not want to see.
I then learnt a new lesson.* Do not ever give up your seat so a mother and daughter can sit together. The Snircher could be waiting for you.
Thankfully I have yet to see a group of girls traveling in their curlers and pjs. But I mainly think that's cos I'm not on a flight to Majorca.
*I actually learnt two lessons that day. Do not try and take a picture to showcase the riduculousenss of such attire as you may be caught by the snircher and you may look like a wrong 'un and it may be interpreted badly.