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The Airport Pint

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The country is still sleeping. It’s five o’clock in the morning and you’ve already been up for hours. You’re knackered, both physically from lugging heavy bags and mentally from working out how to cram as much as you can from your main suitcase into your hand luggage after finding out you’re five kilograms over (despite spending most of last night weighing and re-weighing each bag individually to avoid such a situation).

You forgot to bring a clear plastic bag and even though you’ve only just bought that aftershave, of course, it’s a couple of extra millilitres larger than you’re allowed to take on board (even though the girl in the shop promised you that this was an airport-friendly sized bottle). As your expensive new purchase joins everyone else’s holiday perfume in the big plastic bin of oversized liquids, you’re irked at the lack of remorse being shown by the security guard and a thought crosses your mind… Maybe they dip into it at the end of the day when nobody’s looking! You go to ask them – accuse them – of doing exactly that, before realising that you quite want to go on holiday and should probably keep your mouth shut.

It beeps (of course it beeps) and you’re taken to one side. As you’re being vigorously patted like an old rug that airport security is trying to get the dust out of, you see your hand luggage bag go down the shoot to the right which means you’ll spend the next ten minutes watching someone unpack and repack your bag because your girlfriend's makeup bag and in particular, her selection of lipsticks which have shuffled themselves into a position that apparently makes them suspicious. “Is this your lipstick, sir?” they ask, as you contemplate how to respond. To avoid further interrogation (“are you saying you didn’t pack your own bag, sir?”) you claim it as your own and wince as they pull out the leopard print high heels.

You’re not far away now… As soon as you’ve dodged the over-enthusiastic duty-free salespeople who offer to squirt you with the aftershave you’ve just had to throw away, you’ll be there… It doesn’t matter what time it is, after everything that’s happened this morning you deserve that bloody pint.

The airport pint has legendary status with any drinker. It doesn’t happen that often, so it’s a rare enjoyment. It can be consumed at any hour of the day because as soon as you step into the departures lounge you’re on international soil and it's midday somewhere. It signals that finally, after a few months of slogging your guts out, you’re letting your hair down – the only decisions you’ll have to make for the foreseeable future involve whether it’s a beach or a pool day and what time to start drinking.

Most importantly of all, the airport pint is completely guilt-free – like having a little something on the morning of a wedding, or a glass of champagne at 10am on Christmas Day – everyone knows the rules about airport drinking, and how it’s a totally acceptable (if not semi-compulsory) activity to engage in.

We were supposed to go to Mexico this month but, of course, it was cancelled. We’ve rebooked again for this summer in the hope that life has returned a little more back to normal by then and coincidentally whilst we’re there, my alcohol-free anniversary will tick around. I’m five months alcohol-free now but already know that I’ll make it to a year, and I’ll decide with Gem on a beach whether to order a pint or to continue to live without alcohol. The benefits of being alcohol-free continue to surprise me and if life continues to thrive as it has done over the last five months, I already know what I’ll be ordering.

As long as I can resist that airport pint…

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