I LOVE airports, but I can't be precise about why. It's a bit like a love of football in many ways.
An old friend's ex enjoyed airports so much she would sometimes drive out to Tullamarine just to sit in the departure lounge and watch planes take off and land. Whenever I go to an airport I make it my business to get on a plane, or at the very least pick up a friend who needs a lift home. I'm a bit old-fashioned like that.
A modern footy season is full of contrast. In the space of six days, the Dogs took on the oldest club in the land (Melbourne FC) at the most famous of fields, the MCG. Then we fronted up to a ''franchise'' so new it still had that fresh-paint smell. And the game was played in Switzerland - actually it was Canberra - but neutral turf anyway.
PM Julia Gillard congratulates the Bulldogs after their match against Greater Western Sydney at Manuka Oval on April 28. Photo: Getty Images
Despite their repetitive nature, no two games of football are the same. They're like the faces on a packed morning train - each one kind of the same, only different. A player's diary of a road trip during the season is a bit like that too - you've read them before and I've written them before, but like the sullen faces of the morning commute, no two road trips are alike.
First things first: Gia wasn't on last week's flight, which was a concern for me. I don't need a schedule on trips away because I usually have Danny, and Danny is never late. He leaves the room for dinner, I leave the room; he books in for physio; I book in for massage; etc. He rarely lets on that all this annoys him, but I know it does. It must.
As I'm one of the more senior Dogs these days, my reward is a seat in the exit row. I take out my book, Rake At The Gates Of Hell, a biography of sorts about Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. I like that it's a look at his life in the context of Irish history, making sense of why this eccentric man is the way he is. Well, in the context of neutral ground, this famous Irish folk song had me thinking, then laughing out loud. It's about a young lad with parents on either side of the Catholic/Protestant coin:
One day me mum's relations,
They came to visit me.
By chance me father's kinfolk,
Were just sitting down to tea.
Well, we tried to smooth things over,
But they all began to fight.
And being strictly neutral,
I bashed everyone in sight.
We finally made it into Canberra and their shiny new airport was in full operation. I like Canberra, even if I feel like I kind of have to whisper that in the company of Melburnians. The city reminds me of an airport, which is maybe why it appeals. It's clean and the air is crisp and the people are transient; you get the feeling that very few are from Canberra, just passing through. I like that.
Of course we had a game to play, and the start was a poor one if you're a Dogs fan. At quarter-time some stern conversations were had and a few fingers were pointed.
In reality our senior players played ''nice'' footy, which is just like when a girl referred to you as ''nice'' in high school - it's still not good.
We wrestled control back from the plucky Giants and took the four points in one hand and tucked the Prime Minister's Cup under the other arm. Before we knew it we were back on a plane and getting ready to take on the biggest club in the land just six days later.
Like planes from the airport, games of footy at this time of year take off in quick succession. Sometimes the flight isn't perfect, but the important thing is that you land safely and get the chance to fly even higher next time.