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A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary - Alain de Botton Alain de Botton is perhaps the only person who can make the M4 sound even remotely poetic. "Having avoided the earth for so long, wheels that had last touched ground in San Francisco or Mumbai hesitated and slowed almost to a standstill as they arched and prepared to greet the rubber-stained English tarmac with a burst of smoke that made manifest their planes' speed and weight. With the aggressive whistling of their engines, the airborne visitors appeared to be rebuking this domestic English morning for its somnolence, like a delivery person unable to resist pressing a little too insistently and vengefully on the doorbell of a still-slumbering household. All around them, the M4 corridor was waking up reluctantly. Kettles were being switched on in Reading, shirts being ironed in Slough and children unfurling themselves beneath their Thomas the Tank Engine duvets in Staines."When Terminal 5 opened at Heathrow Airport in 2009, Alain de Botton was asked by the company that owns the airport, BAA, to become its first writer-in-residence. In short, de Botton got to hang around the airport for a week, exploring it all and writing about it.What he produced is an amazing testament of love to travel. For all of us who enjoy the thrill of visiting new places despite the hassle of airports and their inconveniences, this is an excellent book. He has made me want to book a ticket for this weekend, just so that I have the chance to travel, to board planes, to go through the well-known steps that accompany modern travelling. As a teenager, I spent years bringing people to the airport and picking them up, without actually flying myself. When I did finally escape the city on the prairies, I flew on planes so often that I got bored with it. Alain de Botton's short book on his time at Terminal 5 is, of course, philosophical about not just travelling, but about life. Our capacity to derive pleasure from aesthetic or material goods seems critically dependent on our fist satisfying a more important range of emotional and psychological needs...We cannot enjoy palm trees and azure pools if a relationship to which we are comitted has abruptly revealed itself to be suffused with incomprehension and tension. So if you love travelling or hate flying or are indifferent to the way an airport runs, you should definitely read this book. It's beautiful.