Last week I sat on a plane for nine hours. Generally I set out with great plans for a productive journey; time spent doing work or reading something worthy. I feel I should make good use of these long hours, not just fall asleep awkwardly only to wake drooling on my jumper with my legs stretched across some unsuspecting victim. Sleeping on a plane, unless you're first class (I'm not), is a pain in every sense of the word. Your legs cramp, your neck spasms, even your ears hurt from having earphones stuck in them for too long.
t is unpleasant but it is also (apart from the deafening sound of the engine) quite peaceful. No Twitter, no emails, not a text or an Instagram feed to pour over. You can be alone with your thoughts in a world which doesn't frequently accommodate that any more. It is also the place where my childhood dreams were made and so I try to retain a sense of excitement, like I'm going on holiday, even if it's a work trip. I buy sweets and slather duty-free cream on, instead of a 'worthy' book I pick up the embarrassingly trashy magazines I usually refrain from indulging in. What do you do when wedged between two fairly oversized humans?
Sometimes I'll pick up a self-help book because I am a marketer's dream and forever taken in by the bold - usually American - slogans and promises shouting at me from the bulging shelf. I do want to "get my life back", yes please help me "be a people magnet" or a "shark at the office", I just must "reignite my lust for labour". My most recent purchase bestows the virtues of reclaiming the seemingly elusive 'half hour'. Yep, apparently the 30-minute slots we waste away daily are the difference between success and failure, brilliance or mediocrity, good relationships or crap ones, fulfilment or grave dissatisfaction.
I consume these bite-sized nuggets with fervour, gobbling them up before we even leave the runway. Much like horoscopes, I ignore the bits I feel are rubbish. I realise I want to be entertained not enlightened. Of course, in spite of myself, some magic creeps in, that's what I'm paying for after all. I feel sure that these wise words (presented in font that is larger than should be acceptable for a book aimed at adults) will make me feel amazing once I've ingested them - I will be transformed and new again. I'll be revived and hungry for life, and all that's in it. I'll be giving pep talks and pushing people on, energised by the sheer possibility and the absolute proof on page 126, "it works it really does, did you see the testimonials?".
Of course it's not just self-help books. I've taken to downloading endless podcasts so I can educate myself without any effort whatsoever. Listening to the soundtrack of other people's lives and learning from them is a pretty perfect way to spend hours that are generally written off. Which is why Desert Island Discs is a perfect long-haul solution. Sometimes I want to simply escape to another world completely, not daydreaming within my own mind, but rather escaping to the imagined desert island of some of my favourite and some obscure but brilliant humans.
Some of my favourite podcasts from the Desert Island Discs archive include: Jo Malone, Sarah Millican, Russell Brand, Damien Hirst, Johnny Vegas, Malcolm Gladwell, Sally Wainwright, Debbie Wiseman and Ant and Dec. Download one next time you jet off.
House of hackney
House of Hackney is one of my favourite stores ever. Founded in London in 2010 by husband and wife team Javvy M Royle and Dubliner Frieda Gormley, it started out with cult status but has grown into a fully blown super brand in the making. They have teamed with Puma again to make a range of printed trainers and my summer will not be complete without these palm- covered beauties (right).
A change is as good as a rest, or so they say. Picking yourself up and making a move is what it's all about. Of course a holiday is the thing we can't wait for, and it looks very different for different people. A lazy weekend trip to the country, an all-inclusive week in the Canaries, a month backpacking around India, an Airbnb with pals in Istanbul. Whatever your poison, it doesn't even matter. Just pick somewhere before too long and make a plan. It is what we're made for. Exploring and discovering and looking…