The word “express” used to mean that it was “quicker” than something that was “not express”.
In the world of travel it implied a more direct route with fewer stops, meaning a shorter journey time.
Unfortunately for fans of the word “express”, marketing people got hold of it and used it to try to put lipstick on “worse things” by making a virtue of the speed-advantage of having “less choice”. A Tesco Express is smaller than a normal Tesco, so you spend less time there, ergo it was an “express” experience, as was choosing a DVD in my local Blockbusters Express because there was hardly anything to choose from.
Iberia Express have taken this definition-drift one step further by retaining the concept of “worse” but losing the bit about “quicker”.
This means that the Express brand of the Spanish flag-carrier is the same as the normal Iberia, but worse. It is not quicker, it does not have fewer stops on its way to its destination, and nor is it smaller with less choice like a Tesco Express; it’s the same but with less legroom.
It is the “low cost” arm of the Iberia group, but like all “low cost” airlines, it isn’t necessarily “low price” for the passenger.
I was flying to Reykjavik, a fairly lengthy four-hour flight to a pricey destination that seems to jar with the “same-but-worse” Express brand. This wasn’t a highly competitive route where a low-cost alternative might garner some untapped market share, nor is it much of a tourist destination, at least not the sort for people looking for a bargain getaway, but there you go, that’s Iberia Express for you.
I limped off the plane, legs frozen from being shoved in the tiny gap between my seat and the one in front, happy to have avoided a thrombosis. I marched through the airport as quickly as I could, trying to get my circulation going; it was 2am, and I was desperate to get to my hotel. I am not a late-night person any more, those days have gone … I used to adore boozy nights in clubs or sitting around with friends chatting into the small hours, but not any more. I have stumbled through my midlife crisis and come out the other side, accepting the non-negotiable fact that I’m fifty … accepting it and embracing it because you don’t mess with people who are fifty, we’re too grizzled with experience, we’re too fucking hard. I no longer mourn my lost youth, there’s a lot I regret and things I would love to do over, but I’ve got better at living in the present and looking to the future and spend much less time redesigning my past. I don’t want to pretend my age isn’t true – it isn’t “just a number,” as so many people say – it’s a number that means I don’t want to stand in crowded bars at 3am drinking gin just to show I’ve still got what it takes. If that’s what it takes to show you’ve still got what it takes, then I haven’t got what it takes. If I’m not tucked up in bed by eleven with a good book I’m not happy … and so, marching through a chilly airport at 2am after a four-hour flight, I feel no sense of adventure at being in a new country, I just want to rush to a cosy hotel room and jump into bed.
A disadvantage of being middle-aged is failing to remember the age-perspective rule. This means that from the perspective of someone younger, age difference is magnified by a factor of ten. For example, to the very attractive and charming immigration officer who checked my passport and Covid documentation, I probably looked to be about a hundred years old. She was young enough to have never seen an iPhone 5 when I showed her my digital vaccination certificate – she called it “cool” – and yet from my perspective, the age difference is diminished by a factor of ten, and so although she was obviously younger, to my eyes we were all adults and roughly-speaking were all pretty much in or around the same age bracket.
I have learnt that the best assumption to make when women are friendly and nice, is that they are a spy hoping to lure me into some poor decision-making that will be used against me later. This may not always be true, but even if not, I have worked out that friendly-and-nice women are not being friendly and nice in the hope that the aged stranger in front of them will try to get off with them; better outcomes await the man who responds to friendliness and niceness with a respectful friendliness and niceness in return.
This is just as effective even if they are a spy.
I smiled, “Cool? Not sure about that! Just old!”
I hope she realised I was talking about the phone …
Continue reading “Sixty-six degrees north”