Monday, February 6

Terminal 5, Heathrow. A Science-Fiction-right-now scene - all glass and girders, bright lights, giant screens playing ads for BMW and the Olympics and Gray Goose Vodka. (The bottle opens, clear liquid splashes onto ice in a tumbler, some guy does a high dive, the car rounds a corner sportily, the gymnasts celebrate, your correspondent's mind numbs.)

A small blond child wearing rainbow pants and bright red rainboots, whatever they call them here, bumbles past, and everyone smiles.

I'm leaning against a glass railing. The lady sitting next to me, Japanese I think, has offered me a thin foam pad to sit on. It is infinitely more comfortable than the floor, and I am thinking either that this particular Japanese lady is exceptionally clever or that she comes from a culture which has thought through one of the basic problems of travel better than mine ever did.

I'm trying to maintain some sort of dystopian through line to my thoughts, colored first by having spent the last couple of weeks in Hungary, where a pack of protofascist right-wing populists are busily destroying the basic institutions of a democratic society, and secondly by having spent yesterday shuffling through a sequence of inscrutable airport failure modes because the British don't know about snow.

I want to be all moodily intellectualizing and shit, but people — middle aged Japanese travelers, hyperconservative Hungarian Star Trek fans, harried airline checkin clerks — keep making this difficult by being basically decent.