Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kindly Ask For Assistance To Inspect Contents

Flying out of Hong Kong today, we were told to arrive three hours before the flight departed. Since we were checked and through security in 45 minutes, I'm not sure this was altogether necessary. Perhaps Hong Kong International is just very proud of its facilities, and wants you to enjoy them to their fullest extent.

Or perhaps it's a gesture of solidarity with all the poor sods stuck at Heathrow, so everyone, regardless of destination, should all go to the airport. Go on. Whether you're flying somewhere or not. Get down to your local airstrip, or if you don't have one, sit on an uncomfortable bench and try paying too much for a cup of coffee. In fact, if it's not convenient for you to get to an airport because the nearest one is so far away, then it seems even more appropriate for you to hop in a minicab and drive to the furthest, least convenient airport in the country, to properly enjoy The Heathrow Experience.

I shouldn't pick fault with a snowbound airport on the other side of the world. There are problems at Hong Kong International. And not just that we couldn't check in at the self-service machine. No, much worse.

There are no copies of Harper's at Relay. Not one. There's the New Yorker, there's the Economist, there's even the National Enquirer. But no Harper's.

On the other hand, there's now three entire racks at Relay of porn magazines, and that's before you've even gone through security. I'm sure there didn't use to be that much porn at the airport. Has the onanistic requirement of the business traveller increased in the last three months? Is there some seasonal fluctuation so that come the yuletide season, people on planes are much more enthusiastic about crouching in an airplane toilet, banging one out over a picture of a dead-eyed model with plastic baps? Or are they saying there are a lot more wankers about?

Sorry, that was a little crude. I wouldn't want to offend anyone, especially not the cultured and intellectual audience for Razzle/Men Only/Fiesta. Certainly, they can all only be reading Barely Legal for the editorial, not the pictures.

Once through security, we went in search of Harper's at the Page One; lots more Economists and New Yorkers, no Harper's. (Harper'ss?) There were a lot more photography magazines airside, and possibly to inspire all those budding artists, another three shelves of grot mags.

In Page One, all the scrut magazines are plastic wrapped, but there's a helpful sign saying "Kindly Ask For Assistance To Inspect Contents". Now I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I'm not sure you would want to ask a shop assistant to give you a hand while you're "inspecting contents". So to speak.

I'm not saying I want to while away my time before the flight by standing in a brightly lit newsagent, perusing plastic-wrapped pornography1, but I'm still curious what "assistance" would be. Will they turn the pages for you, so you can relax your trembling hands? Will a youngster in a nylon sweater and a plastic nametag stand next to you with a container of hand lotion and a box of Kleenex? Is there a band out back waiting to come through the staff door and play a Seventies funk classic while you check out the goods?

Because if there is, I still don't think that's going to be very helpful. Just a thought, if you're a retail analyst for Page One and wondering why the porn isn't flying off the shelves as fast as you were hoping.2

1 That doesn't mean I'd be happy in a dimly lit bookstore, thumbing through brown-paper-covered discount erotica. Just want to put that straight.
2 Or maybe they're filling their boots with a high volume of porn sales right now.3 Any retail analysts from Page One who want to clarify the issue, please get in touch.
3 Yes, that was an ill-considered expression. I'm sorry. Maybe I should leave the country for a while.


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