Tag Archives: purgatory

Purgatory is Heathrow Terminal 3

I thought about starting the title to this post ‘Hell is …’, but to say that Heathrow Airport excels at anything, even awfulness, is beyond me. In any case a stopover in Heathrow does offer hope of reprieve: I’ve got a long-haul flight to look forward to.

Like Dante’s penitents in purgatory I’m hunched in discomfort paying for my mistakes (can anyone say Italy to Singapore via London). The image of those poor souls endlessly carting huge stones on their backs is haunting me. What sin deserved that? I can’t remember and can’t find the answer—there isn’t even working wi-fi here.

Contrary to the medieval view, the people speaking in tongues are just about the only interesting or appealing thing about this place. I’ve been playing the ‘what language is that’ game constantly, but with my very Australian mono-and-a-half-lingualism it’s not a game I do well at.

This terminal is so cramped. Between flights there is nothing worse than having to sit right next to some stranger as you stare into the middle space somewhere in front of the departures screens. Oh, and the chairs in this place are awful. I’m sure some demented interior-designer thought the wooden laminate perfect, so aesthetically pleasing and hard-wearing (no offence to interior designers meant—some of my best friends are interior designers—well one of them anyway).

The seats sure wore us down, inspiring an expedition into the gate-lands to try and find a quieter, more comfortable camping ground. No luck, you need to flash a boarding pass to enter the gates. All we managed to acquire was a brief glimpse of the airline lounges. The class divide is painfully present in Heathrow.

Another boarding announcement. My concentration is broken. I go to the bookshop to get a bottle of water. Wondering if there is anything worth reading among the titles on display I move towards the shelves and find pastel-covered chick-lit, biographies of queens of England and live-and-tells from British eminents. One bottle of water it is.

Mid-afternoon and I haven’t checked my email all day. I bite the bullet and pay a pound for ten minutes of internet access at a fixed ‘kiosk’. The next five minutes are among the most frustrating in my life as I wrestle with the evil computer terminal. It won’t load anything, but my precious seconds of access time are ticking away.

Hopeless, total failure. Two more hours to go.

**Posted in rather delayed fashion. I could have posted this in Changi airport where there is abundant free wi-fi, but we were too busy going to the gym, showering,  having free foot massages and eating delicious food. Enough said?