Wednesday, July 30, 2008

119% of adults in the western world have a blog these days

But do they have an automatic blog post generator?

Well yes.

Yes they do.

Because it's out there on the Internet.

(excellent, if rather off-topic, find by Tamar)

Sod Abroad: Best price guide

If, by some appalling oversight, you haven't bought my spiffy collection of light comic essays about the iniquities of travel yet, then here's something handy. A constantly updated guide to the cheapest online prices so you can buy knowing that you've got the funniest treatise about staycations available, by the nicest known author, at the lowest possible price.

You could probably use it to find the best deals on other books too. If you wanted any of them.

Bear in mind, too, that even if you have got a copy of 'Sod Abroad', it makes an ideal gift for people who either don't like holidays, or like them a little too much, or feel fairly sanguine either way but need to have an inexpensive paperback given to them for some reason.

After all, it's got stuff about food, booze, bikinis, illegal drugs, sex, suntans and nazis - so there really is something for everyone!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Schott's Almanac of New Tourism

Lots of variety here, as one might expect from the master of miscellany, but I detect a pleasingly negative tone overall.

Take a look at the PDF & see!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Moby says aeroplanes are a great way to travel - as long as you don't wear glasses & like bad smells

This terrific bit from the online journal of ambient electro-advert music pioneer and all-round fellow bald chap Moby:

"I was on a flight recently and I was sitting next to a very professional business woman. I'm guessing she was 48 years old, very affluent and successful and poised. 15 minutes into the flight she took an Ambien and went to sleep. 90 minutes later she woke up, looked at me and said, 'I like your glasses'. She took my glasses and tried them on. She then sat for a second, farted very loudly, and went back to sleep."

"When she woke up later I could tell that she had absolutely no recollection of waking up and taking my glasses and farting loudly. If you're flying and you want to sleep you might want to think twice about what sleep drugs you're taking. Some sleep drugs probably should be reconsidered at 38,000 feet in the company of complete strangers."
So, two more things to be added to the list of airborne inconveniences - untoward ocular interference and intimate ercutations from people to whom you have not been introduced. I'm keeping a list of these, and it's getting rather long.

Jet set to 'blow' instead of 'suck' - hilarity ensues

It's a mistake any of us could have made. If we'd been entrusted with the cleaning of a very expensive aeroplane and somehow distracted at a crucial moment.

It didn't happen to us though. It happened to this poor lady. So let's take a moment to point and laugh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I expected a Canary, I got a Turkey

Blame early morning check-ins. Blame sloppy staff who haven't checked the tickets properly. Don't, whatever you do, blame the passengers for not paying attention to where they were being shipped. It sounds to me like they're annoyed enough already.

Actually, we shouldn't be assigning blame, but thanks - this one's a purler!

A family setting off on a five-star holidays travelled 2,000 miles out of their way after they were given boarding passes for the wrong flight.

Charlie Coray, his wife, Tania, and daughter, Phoebe, 9, were caught in a mix-up at a check-in desk before their week's holiday in the Canary Islands.The family realised the mistake only after the plane landed and the air stewardess announced: “Welcome to Turkey”.

An investigation was started after it emerged that the family were given the wrong boarding passes at Cardiff airport for their holiday in Lanzarote. Mrs Coray, 44, a teacher, said: “It was unbelievable. I know they send luggage to the wrong places but not people.” Mr Coray, 47, an engineer, said: “It was about 6.30 in the morning when we arrived at Cardiff airport and we were directed to the check-in desk. We did not realise that more than one flight was being checked in there. We were half-asleep. When we were called to the gate we gave them our boarding passes, got on the plane and fell asleep.”

The Corays, from Llanishen, Cardiff, had booked an all-inclusive holiday with First Choice in a five-star hotel. Instead they arrived at Bodrum airport where they had to pay a £10 visa charge per person before boarding a plane back to Cardiff.

They have accepted First Choice's offer of a holiday in Ibiza because they could not get a flight to Lanzarote.A spokesman for the handling agents Servisair apologised and said that the staff member who accepted them on to the wrong flight had been suspended pending a hearing. A spokeswoman for First Choice said that an investigation was under way and that the Coray family would be refunded in full for any additional expenses incurred.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A cheap holiday in someone else's misery

We have an ongoing credit crunch. Some might call it a recession. Whatever language you choose to employ, certainly there's not much money left over for luxuries like vacations right now.

So who has decided to start pitching for your hard-earned holiday cash?

Why, the Iraqi tourist board, of course!

And you thought you already knew about the silliest holiday idea ever.

Hassan alFayath, a spokesman for the Iraq Tourism Ministry, points out one little drawback you might otherwise overlook

“War is never good for tourism...”

But he shares with many of his fellow Iraqis an indefatigable optimism

“...but I think things will get better.”

Of course Hassan might be overlooking one other small point, which is that once the US Department of Homeland Security get a look at that big fat 'Iraq' stamp in your passport, that trip to Disneyland is probably off.

Which, depending on your frame of mind, might not be such a bad thing....

(T-Shirt from Fat American)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

StayCations - The debate hots up

The second you get a nice trend going, there's always someone who comes along to decry it.

The person decrying the StayCation thing is a pleasant-looking lady from St.Louis called Aisha Sultan.

I think her problem might be that she's looking for a traditional holiday experience - and that's precisely what I (and many others) strive to avoid.

Proponents of these staycations tell us to: Rediscover the hidden treasures in your hometown! Visit local attractions! Eat luxurious dinners! 

In reality, a staycation, one-tank trip, holi-stay, whatever you want to call it — is just depressing. It's also a slippery slope. It's too easy to start eyeing your disorganized closets and the messy garage. It's not a vacation when you can walk into your kitchen and see a stack of dirty dishes. And, it's too easy to fritter the nights away watching reruns of "Law & Order."

The thing is, if you're ever going to get your house straight, then this is the time to do it. You're too knackered after a day's work and the weekends are just too damn short. One decent pub lunch can pretty much consume half a weekend if you do it right. Throw in a barbecue on the Sunday and you're done.

Of course if you don't want to tidy up your house Aisha, then don't. No-one's judging you. You can be as messy as you like. Besides, with all that money you've saved by not going on holiday you could always get a cleaner or something.

And you make frittering a night away in front of the telly sound like a bad thing. Personally, Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, and The Mighty Boosh are my pile of DVD poison but if you want to watch Law and Order then watch away, my St.Louis friend. Watch Law and Order until your eyes bubble. It's not like you have to get up in the morning.

And remember, you'll be minted. You can go our for luxurious meals. Meals are ace, try a few. Plus, because you're at home, you can always get a babysitter, if you're the more fertile type of lady.

Fly the empty skies

Not a travel story as such, given that no-one's actually travelling, but it seems some airlines are running empty planes on scheduled routes rather than give up the slots that they evidently can't fill.

So, next time you calculate the carbon footprint of your holiday double it, because chances are that the airline will have made a few dummy runs just so they could be ready at the airport when you need them.

Doesn't that feel good?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Picture of the Day

Not sure what relevance this has, but I like it..

You know where it's from

Monday, July 14, 2008

The StayCation meme spreads & diversifies..

We Are Storytellers is running a StayCation theme month at the moment, with a forum, hand-made postcards from home and all sorts of crazy.

The 'home holiday' idea is really picking up now. Of course I'm not so arrogant as to claim it was all my idea.

But it was.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I started a joke..

I must confess, when I started work on Sod Abroad, all those months ago (actually, now I think of it, it’s a big hole out of two years but then I did suspend operations briefly to work on Shopping While Drunk) I didn’t honestly believe anyone would ever agree with any of my points.

It was intended principally as a sort of amusing Deb.Soc. conjuring trick wherein I raised an untenable argument and then attempted to stand it up with a series of entertaining essays, comical pop-culture-inspired lists and the odd unscientific equation.

Now, one apparently unpredictable credit crunch later, all sorts of grown-ups are reporting that the phenomenon I thought I’d invented to raise a few chuckles is in fact for many people a genuine and necessary response as the walls of recession close in like that enormous garbage disposal thingy in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (as we’re obliged to now call it).

The inimitable Simon de Bruxelles, in The Times, gives the phenomenon a name:

"Welcome to the “staycation”, which experts expect to be the trend as families who cancel or cut back their holiday plans opt to stay at home during their summer break"

An associated article quotes John O’Connor, a Somerset shipping manager:

“The cost of everything is rising and we are starting to feel the pinch. A holiday is a big outlay so unfortunately it’s the first thing we can afford to go without. Holidays in Europe seem very expensive at the moment because of the exchange rate and we were very surprised at the cost of self-catering breaks in England"

Meanwhile, Jeff Randall in the Telegraph observes that:

For me, Britain's finest hour comes just as the dash abroad begins. It is only then that one realises how much nicer life would be if our cities were not so crowded.

Peter Riddell has all the hard stats on the thing, if hard stats are your kind of thing:

"Nearly three out of five of us say that we intend to cut back our summer holiday plans because of financial pressures"

I would love to pretend that I saw all this coming. Of course if I had, even for a moment, I’d have been doing something clever on the stock market instead of wasting my weekends writing comic essays for your amusement.

Still. All the same.

I told you so.

Aeroplanes: They’re just common aren’t they?

The appeal of air travel is rooted in a spurious 1960s notion of glamour involving well-groomed people hopping on and off Concorde who are on the one hand entirely unaware of problems like noise pollution and their colossal carbon footprint but on the other hand are carrying really nice little blue bags with BOAC written on them. The truth today is far more democratic and infinitely more ghastly. Every few minutes a chubby little orange-and-white aeroplane takes off from one of the airports clustered around London, packed to bursting point with people who are unlikely to be able to eat, drink, or visit the lavatory for over an hour. They will be flown at speeds well in excess of 500mph to assorted destinations around the world that have become more English than England itself by dint of the current cheapness of flying. International journeys have become nasty, brutish and short.

There are some worthy souls who are very much opposed to the popularisation of air travel. They will point out that British emissions of CO2 from aircraft shot up from a far from acceptable 4.6 million tons in 1990 to a somewhat disquieting 8.8 million tons in 2000. But with the queasyjet lifestyle still expanding (the current annual figure of 180 million sweaty tourists is expected to rise to something like 476 million even sweatier tourists per year by 2030) our gaseous emissions will rise to 17.7 million tons in 2030. 

It’s enough to make the most sanguine Range Rover owner a little concerned. Don’t worry yet, it’s about to get worse: Aircraft emissions that go directly into the stratosphere have at least twice the global warming effect of emissions from cars or power stations at ground level and, based on the Government's own calculations, the effect of the 2030 emissions will be equivalent to a genuinely frightening 44.3 million tons of carbon – around 45 per cent of Britain's expected emissions total at that date. That’s enough to worry a Clarkson.

Some people don’t have time to worry about the ecological effect of air travel because they’re too busy worrying about the ‘plane crashing. In fact this is very unlikely. Statistically the chances of an average person being involved in a major aircraft accident are close to nil. You probably already knew this, but the most dangerous part of any aeroplane jouney ends when you leave your car in long term parking. One you’re aboard the ‘plane you’re probably safe. It’s not all good news though. Statistically the chances of spending the next hour or so trapped in a metal tube full of strangers farts and eating terrible terrible food while potentially fatal blood clots accumulate in your legs are, in defiance of some natural laws, a little over 100%.

The original appeal of air travel was based on its exclusivity. Over the last twenty years it has become one of those exotic commodities like cappuccino, cocaine, or ciabatta that have regrettably trickled down as far as the tracksuit wearing classes. Consequently a trip on a modern airliner is like an extended wait in some vast cylindrical dole office. When the mile high club throws open its doors to people with elasticated waistbands it is time, my friends, to leave the club.

Friday, July 11, 2008

See? See? You thought I was joking!

Actually, I thought I was too...

Big in Eire

Every time I write a book I seem to end up getting a good receprion over there. Perhap's it's the name. Perhaps it's my freewheeling attitude to life, language and punctuation.

Who can say? God bless 'em though!

"I am going on holiday now..I may be gone for some time..."

Having stunk up every other remaining bit of the planet (I draw your attention here to the trash mountains at the foot of Everest and all around Machu Picchu) tourists are now considering Antarctica as a jolly spot for a picnic.

If pressed, the inadequates that are blowing £42,000 on this festival of small-cock compensation would probably assert that they're not 'tourists' but 'travellers' or even fucking 'explorers'.

Balls. Every single person that goes on one of these 'adventure' holidays is essentially shouting 'look at me' as loudly as they can while simultaneously pissing away a huge amount of money that could be put to better use (helping end child poverty, combatting homelessness or organising a really massive boozy book launch for 'Sod Abroad') and dirtying up the 'amazing' scenery for the next overprivileged blowhard that comes along with self-aggrandizement on his mind and ice in his beard.

Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. Fuck 'em all in the eye.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Carousels of death

Remember the site that obsessively catalogued cruise ship mishaps?

There's one for theme parks too, which is sort of unsurprising when you think about it.

I mean..I love a dodgem, but you'll never get me off the ground in anything without its own engines.

Do you know the way to San José?

From the nation's favourite news-and-boobs organ, The Sun:

A JET passenger was lost for words when he took this snap of a Virgin Atlantic plane – with a world ATLAS in the cockpit.

Andrew Bellamy, 27, was left wondering if the pilot needed a hand navigating, after spying the book at Heathrow’s Terminal 3.

And to make matters worse, it was an OLD edition of Collins World Atlas.

Andrew, who was catching another flight to Canada, said: “I know pilots have electronics but I was a bit worried he might not know where he was going.”

Last night a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman explained many pilots like to carry an atlas so they can pick out landmarks, such as mountain ranges, for onboard passenger announcements.

Yay! Road trip!

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Picture of the Day

..and that's how you appreciate art. Seriously. Couldn't they just buy a fucking postcard?

[via Vagabondish]

Air Traffic controller required for Isles of Scilly - Blind candidates especially welcome

There's affirmative action, there's over-eager political correctness, and then there's just doing something wilfully stupid to get your rain-soaked islands back on the news agenda.

The RNIB are, perhaps predictably, in favour of the provision of a Braille application form for potential Air Traffic Contollers. Realistically though, anyone without 20/20 vision has no chance of getting the job. I hope.

The islands have a tiny airfield (and I use the word advisedly, it's grass rather than concrete) used for small passenger planes ferrying the over-optimistic to the tiny outcropping of damp campsites and overpriced tea-shops at the bottom left-hand corner of your British Isles map.

Keri Jones, the controller of Radio Scilly, tried hard to introduce a positive spin on the non-news story.

“We have had loads of calls about it and people generally find it quite funny. The islands are always at the cutting edge of innovation, so it would certainly be something for Scilly to have the world's first blind air traffic controller.”

The emphasis is mine. As are the words 'Ha ha ha'

If innovation is switching off the hot water in your campsite's showers because there's only been eight inches of rainfall in the last week then yes - The Isles of Scilly are our very own Epcot Centre.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


"I hope this will end what has been over recent years an exercise in deceit by some airlines which try to con the travelling public into believing they are buying a very cheap ticket when the opposite is true."

Get these M----------F--------------- ticks off my M----------F--------------- plane!

That's half the trouble with aeroplanes. They keep going to warm places where all the ghastly bugs and slitherery things live. And every now and then some of them decide to hitch a ride.

How to make a minor aeroplane accident exciting: Just add celebrities

And people say Victoria Beckham is no fun: Thsi story wouldn't warrant a mention were it not for the pyjama-clad Posh.

It was then that the horrifying scale of the disaster really hit home for Victoria — she realised she was wearing standard-issue aircraft pyjamas and no make-up.

Sex on the beach isn't just a cocktail..'s a guaranteed 6-year prison sentence in some of those warm countries where one might be tempted to take one's clothes off.

Sex outside marriage is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, as is cohabitation, adultery, homosexuality and loads of other fun stuff.

Now if you stay at home, you can have sex as often as you like, as long as you've got a willing co-sexer. Or one of those internets with all the naked people on instead of this crappy one with just jokes and stuff.

Sure it's not as warm, but you can always keep your socks on, can't you?

The ideal holiday - buried in sand

I don't pretend to understand any art after about 1960. Least of all this spot of craziness.

We used to use the phrase 'publicity stunt' which covered most of the actions now classified as 'raising awareness'. You don't have to have a point to 'raise awareness' - you just need to do something crazyass and shout 'look at me'; quite a bit.

Still. This chap's 'raised' my 'awareness' of fruitcakes burying themselves in sand, an activity that I thought had died out after the filming of 'Carry on, follow that camel'. You live & learn, eh?

Sod Abroad: Vindicated by grownups!

It's all very droll and jolly when I'm saying that you shouldn't go anywhere on holiday. But now a grwon-up's on my side too: Peter Riddell, one of the brainy chaps at The Times, suggests that no-one will be going away this year because of some credit crunch or other.

And all this time you thought I was joking. In fairness, so did I.

In case you can't be bothered to click through to the (generally pretty marvellous) Times Online site, here's Big Pete's rap:

Nearly three out of five of us say that we intend to cut back our summer holiday plans because of financial pressures.
A new Populus poll for The Times, carried out over the weekend, shows that 58 per cent are changing their original holiday plans in the light of the rising cost of living, the weakness of the pound against the euro and the credit crunch in Britain. This provides a striking illustration of the impact of economic gloom upon consumer confidence and spending plans.
There are big variations. Just under a half of professionals and managers say that they are making cutbacks, while nearly two thirds of skilled manual workers are doing so.
Just under a fifth of the public, 19 per cent, say that they are cancelling plans for a summer holiday altogether. If they carry out this intention, these cutbacks would be very worrying for the travel industry, particularly those dealing in overseas holidays. More than a quarter, 27 per cent, of unskilled manual workers, say that they are cancelling their holiday plans.
As many as two fifths, 41 per cent, of the public say that they are reducing the length of a summer holiday abroad. This includes just over half of skilled manual workers.
Nearly a third, 32 per cent, report that they are going on a cheaper holiday abroad than originally planned. In this area professionals and managers are, at 34 per cent, slightly more likely than the average to make cutbacks.
Just over a third of the public, 34 per cent, say that they are switching plans from a holiday abroad to a holiday in Britain. Only a quarter of professionals and managers, 26 per cent, say that they intend to do this. Such switching of holidays could provide a prop for the domestic travel industry against the impact of the economic downturn.
For now, job security is not a big worry. Nationwide building society’s latest survey, published today, found consumer confidence at a record low in June, yet people remain relatively upbeat about finding work: 50 per cent think there are currently some or many jobs available, while 37 per cent expect the situation to remain the same.
Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide’s chief economist, said that this one positive factor may not last. “While consumers appear to be fairly relaxed about the availability of jobs, with unemployment beginning to rise, we are likely to see a change in labour market sentiment over the coming months.”
However, thousands of jobseekers were turned away yesterday when a recruitment fair was overwhelmed. The jobs fair for a shopping centre was closed at lunchtime because of concerns over the crowds of people who turned up seeking work. Police halted the fair and asked anyone else planning to attend to stay away.
The event, organised by WhiteCity Works, an employment partnership set up by Hammersmith & Fulham borough, attracted 3,000 people, many more than expected. The shopping centre, which will have 265 stores and 40 restaurants, is expected to create 7,000 jobs.

Thanks Pete!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

At last! The passengers strike back!

Although, obviously, they still come off worst:

A flight from Florida to New York Sunday night never got off the ground. That's because after the flight crew arrived late, angry and impatient passengers got verbally agitated and hostile. Apparently it was so bad, the crew wasn't comfortable working the flight so they refused to take off. Dick Brennan has the exclusive video report.

Monday, July 07, 2008

It's one thing to break the plane..'s a whole other thing to break the plane and not even notice.

UPDATE: Looks like it was aliens

So much quoteable goodness in this reasoned look at holiday stomach bugs

I'll just pick out a couple of salient points:


It is now scientifically established that eating away from their usual neighbourhood is the relevant factor in causing travellers' diarrhoea. The holiday trade would prefer that everyone believed this was because emotional tensions were raised by battles at airports, anxieties over luggage, niggling doubts as to the hotel booking and the discovery that the reserved bedroom was next to a building site. Travel agents will admit that water can be responsible - not because of bacterial contamination from glasses rinsed in dirty washing-up water but, they suggest, because the geological structure of the local mountains makes a mysterious difference to the water's chemistry so that it becomes mildly laxative.

Travelling stress does undermine the immune system and lower resistance to infection, but in most cases the principal cause of traveller's diarrhoea is bugs from dirty hands of waiters, filthy, bacteria-laden dishcloths and cutting boards in unhygienic kitchens, and the organisms that live around plugholes in sinks. Most people, wherever they come from, have an immune system that is able to deal with the local bacteria. However, if they travel even 100 miles, the neighbourhood strains of E. coli and salmonella encountered are different, so that usually benign bugs upset the stranger's guts.

You know somewhere nice that's within 100 miles of your house? Somewhere that's already got all your stuff in it, perhaps?

As the Breakfast Club taught us - if you mess with the bull, you get the horns

When will people learn that an adrenalin rush is your body's way of letting you know you're in trouble?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Amazon has spoken - It's official!

I'm funnier than SpongeBob Squarepants. Although not as funny as being Engulfed in Flames

The 7 Scariest Airports on Earth

As enumerated by Richard Green for the Sunday Times.

Saba, in the Dutch Caribbean

I'm pretty sanguine about flying, I know all about the relative safety of airliners compared to (say) hot hatches driven by dim young boys on a testosterone high, but seriously: There's such a thing as tempting fate you know...

Friday, July 04, 2008

This is fabulous

In a break from my normal programming I present a song that impressed the bejeezus out of a 22-year old Michael Moran. I haven't heard it in years but it still sounds great now. Check it out...

More half baked nonsense about disappointing holiday experiences tomorrow, I promise. If you're desperate for more why not buy the book

Venice the Menace: Tourism done right

Why go to California when you can see all the finest sun-baked nutjobs on your very own computer?

Click over to Venice the Menace for some illuminating insights into...well...whatever these fruitcakes think they're talking about.

Picture of the Day

From the always super-sized TrendHunter

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wordle cloud

Wordle is a fun online toy that makes pretty-looking tag clouds of whatever you fancy. I tried squirting the whole manuscript of my book in but of course the words that got the most action were rather dull conjunctions that tend to appear a lot in any long English document. These are a shade better, if not absolutely 'true' -

The world's most expensive flight simulator! Try it today!

I know I should be running stories about more varied topics than just the stupidity of airlines, but really - they keep doing funny stuff.

OK, funny stuff where somebody dies, but still. Funny stuff.