Letter from the editor: Writer-in-residence


I’ve just come back from a holiday in Seattle, on the north-west coast of America.

It’s a beautiful city, set amid majestic mountains and forests, where the Puget Sound has formed a series of intricate inlets, estuaries and islands. One minute you can be driving through the downtown area, the next you can be gazing on the snowy slopes of Mount Rainier. If you get the chance to go, jump at it.

I flew direct with British Airways, which necessitated spending a period of time in Terminal Five at Heathrow. So I was amused to hear, on my return to work yesterday, that Tony Parsons has been appointed writer-in-residence at the airport which many might consider the modern-day equivalent of the ninth circle of hell. Bad enough to be there for two or three hours, but a whole working week? No, thank you.

And yet, looking back, my two hour sojourn was very pleasant. There can be something rather liberating about airports. You are not your “home” self, and you’re not your “away” self. You are in limbo, or to use fantasy/sci-fi speak, between existences or portals.

Parsons describes airports as “places of extreme emotion where people come and go and experiences begin and end”. Personally, I find them places of extreme spending, as my credit-card bill will testify. Let’s hope it falls through the crack between two parallel worlds.

Oddly enough, the writer-in-residence job that appealed to me most was in Seattle, at the top of the Space Needle (the funny-shaped building that features in the Frasier logo). You have your own desk and a Starbucks just a few feet away. I think I might have found the view a bit distracting, though.

Stefano Hatfield is away