“Don’t travel unless it’s absolutely necessary!”

During this mini-Ice Age, as the media would describe it, some of us, in the forgotten Midlands, have seen no snow at all and are enjoying a pleasant and skid free run up to Christmas. Listening to the news you would get the impression that armageddon had arrived, that glacial flows have slid inexorably over the capital and some post-nuclear winter has descended onto the UK.

Now, whilst there is snow in a variety of places in the UK, most importantly the story that terrorises us all, is that the snow is in London and the south east – now this is a BIG story! Very handy for the news gatherers who consider the capital as the epicentre of civilisation which sets the tone for what is considered important. Trade is down on Oxford Street,  the cash tills are not ringing, tax revenues are down, profits are down, George Osborne will be anxious, a terrible blow to the economy. If the only snow was in provincial Derby with takings plunging on St Peter’s Street, I am sure this would gain a brief mention on the 6 o’ closk news and then move swiftly onto the news story about the new baby panda at London zoo, called Colin.

There are, without doubt, many people who have struggled with the weather particuarly those who are using air or rail services where any semblance of an excuse causes all of the dominoes to clatter down on to each other. They will feel helpless, out of control and stressed. Fortunately for the thousands of people snaking through St Pancras station and out on to the Euston Road, shivering to the core, waiting for the Eurostar, a band will begin playing this evening to raise spirits. I am sure if I was in the queue, on the verge of losing consciousness because of the cold, thinking how life was so easy for Shackleton in the Antarctic, and a jolly bunch of chaps was wheeled in from the local pub or club, being artificially festive,I think I would  probably resort to uncharacteristic violence.

I feel for these poor souls who are at the mercy of the corporate blank faces who consistently fail to recognise one of the primary laws of customer service – good quality communication. How many times have we heard in the last few days, disgruntled travellers complaining when they have been sat on the runway for 9 hours, or sleeping under a man-sized piece of bacofoil, that no one has told them what is going on, or when they will hear anything, or some clue about progress.  This is a quality piece of advice to all travel corporations for which I will only charge them a modest fee.

The one piece of travel advice which is totally pointless is the hackneyed cliche of “Don’t travel unless its absolutely necessary!”. Of course no one knows quite what this means – going for emergency surgery would probably be considered “absolutely necessary” , Cyril and Doris going to the garden centre for a day out, probably isn’t. No doubt the work-shy will see this as a good reason for a free day-off as one could argue, philosophically, that work is not absolutely necessary. One persons adrenalin rush with a wheel-spinning, rear wheeled drive jalopy, is another persons unnecessary venture into the unknown world of extreme danger. It is an empty statement : we can see its icy, we can make our own minds up, we don’t need the “Nanny BBC” or “Patronising Sky” to treat us like kids…they  have started telling us to wrap up warm and make sure that we have a handkerchief. They have yet to advise taking a spare condom just in case we have to huddle in a car, with a passer-by, to keep warm, and then strike it lucky! Perhaps there is time yet – keep watching the Daily Mail.

So, TV companies, and tired journalists – this is going to be a long winter, lots of snow and ice, and to avoid unnecessary danger to yourselves, please  “Do not use cliches, unless they are absolutely necessary!”

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