Chris: I guess Interminal, which I read about in this month’s Edge, is kind of a joke, on one level. Boy, Airports go on forever! And so many perfume shops! You walk and you walk and you walk and the terminal never ends. Planes move around outside, the sunset sky gives everything a touch of the otherworld, of quiet radioactivity, and miles of perfume concessions pass by.
You can pick up perfumes and learn how they smell. You can buy them or put them back down. Mainly I just walk, though, and soon I forget that Interminal is kind of a joke about airports and enjoy it as its other element, this playful exploration of modern liminal spaces.
There is a magic to airports – the same kind of magic Will Self finds on the M25. These are our Stone Henges, our Avebury Rings, they just aren’t sufficiently old yet. There is a touch of the religious to them, and not just because I always find myself surprisingly religious whenever I have to get on a plane. Interminal gets at a lot of this feeling.
It’s the emptiness that I really love – the click of my shoes on the tile, the sad gloss of everything, the vistas of empty shops and no people. Nobody waiting at the departure boards that flicker-flack as they update. Nobody wondering why we can’t actually get out of Duty Free and onto the jetways. Nobody worrying about the rippling body of the airport that you can glimpse through the windows, turning and turning and never coming to an end.
I spent far longer here than I probably should have. I ran and ran, and then I turned direction and ran some more. Do I miss airports? I probably do. Interminal brings the strange wordless beauty of air travel very close.
Bertie: I get a funny mix of feelings from Interminal. On the surface, I enjoy the joke about the neverending perfume concourse, because it’s true! They’re everywhere. Does anyone actually ever buy them? I never have.
I particularly like the fragrance descriptions you give when you smell them. “Smells like Chinese quince .. or maybe cyst explosion,” your character says. Or, remarkably, “Smells like dry, old armpit sweat that envelops polluted air from wet dreams.” I love the (probably) randomly generated bizarreness of them. Thinking up alternative descriptions for perfumes is exactly the kind of thing I would do while wandering an airport, bored.
It makes me nostalgic, and I can’t believe I’m saying that about airports. I’m hardly aching for a day out at Heathrow. But there is magic in them, like Chris says. I think it’s the feeling of going somewhere, that excited nervousness; or if you’ve been away working somewhere, the comforting warmth of returning home. I feel that through Interminal. It reminds me of places I’m lucky enough to have been.
Interminal is nowhere near as busy as any real airport, of course. There is literally no one else there with you. And so in the place of the noisy hustle and bustle, and the stressed faces and noisy stag parties and hen dos, there is, instead, a deep feeling of calm. It’s the calm of being between places, I like to think, neither here nor there. The calm that comes from having nothing much to do, but to gaze out of a huge window and imagine, or roam the concourse sniffing perfumes.