Or, reasons why I'm a Bad Ballardian, part 4. The gap between the Platonic form of the airport and its grim reality is best encapsulated in an anecdote of Eno's, where he goes to an Airport and someone actually plays Music for Airports over the tannoy: only it's deafeningly loud, with all its limpid elegance lost in a dodgy speaker system. So, when I go to an Airport I may want to drift around it in a Ballardian manner, and Stansted must be the best to do this in: Foster's hexagonal canopies are perhaps the only works of his where you can tell he used to work with Buckminster Fuller. So it should be sterile, placid and antiseptic, the interzone where all is un-English, and 'vast populations, measured by annual passenger throughputs, are entirely transient, purposeful and, for the most part, happy' but it isn't, it's horrible.
Architectures of Control has posted on how Airports are essentially made as unpleasant as possible without inducing the consumer to riot, and much as one would like to imagine them as glamorous Eero Saarinen fantasies, they're a fantastic example of the cumbersome nature of neoliberalism. Old-school public transport on trains might take longer, but involves no pointless waiting for check in, no little bus to take you from one bit of runway to the other, no nonsense about face creams - just buy a ticket, sit down. One can enjoy a train ride. Planes, after the (always admittedly fun) initial woosh are just deadly dull and pervaded by endless regulation and bureaucracy. The interminable queueing, dithering and corporate mean-spiritedness suggests an entire mode of transport based on the experience of 21st century England.