'WELCOME to Limbo' flickered across many of the world’s departure boards.

We, at home, looked on as airport lounges - some packed with weary travellers, others eerily ghostly empty - spoke volumes that a global travel organisation had gone bust.

This was no fly-on-the-wall documentary about the airline industry.

It was reality TV on our screens.

In between endless self-promotional plugs for Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC's Breakfast Show initially gave less air-time to this devastating, breaking news story: the cancelled vacations, weddings and honeymoons discarded like confetti, school trips grounded, christenings and birthdays celebrations abandoned, hen and stag parties wiped out and romantic get-a-way breaks truly dumped.

The Thomas Cook Affair had left 155,000 people needing flights home and 9,000 jobs were on the line.

Holidays are meant to alleviate stress - not create it.

But why couldn't the Government do more and respond to the frantic plea of a £200million cash injection?

We are now having to fork out £100million in state-funded rescue packages.

RBS was also bailed out by the taxpayers - surely something could have been done for the world’s most famous travel company and its loyal staff of 21 thousand across the globe - nine thousand of whom are based in the UK?

Every human interest tale was here and yet what did we hear ... Brexit-obsessed politicians declaring there were no lifeboats.

Now that soul-destroying phrase 'apply for compensation' has become as welcome as a cheap fridge magnet from a souvenir shop.

At least there are calls for Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser to hand back his bonuses of £2.9 million.

And a fast-track investigation will now take off looking into the share-holders and investors who by their self-interest ensured that Thomas Cook staff will now be travelling to their nearest job centres.

One stoical holidaymaker said Mr Thomas Cook, the pioneer founder of mass market holidays 178 years ago, would be 'spinning in his grave.' 

People of all ages and back-grounds have been let down by the brand they had stayed loyal to.

Yet again, the public were the last to know.

One thing has to be salvaged from the baggage carousel of life - before we even pack a suitcase we must all read the small print in every single brochure to prevent this type of travel sickness happening again.

It’s about time the Government and mis-managed companies respected ordinary people who need to be protected and should be a priority always 'handled with care.' 


IF, like me, you are dazed by forms, Utter Drivel by the Plain English Campaign (PEC) will help explain typical jargon complete with translations.

Chrissie Maher of the PEC said: "Communication has only one purpose - to get information from one person to another but it fails in an alarmingly high number of cases." 

Here's one mind-boggling example from the insurance world: 'The due observance and fufillment of the terms so far as they relate to anything to be done or complied with by the Insured and the truth of the statements and answers in the Proposal shall be conditions prececent to any liability of the Company to make any payment under this Policy.'


Translated it means: 'We will only make a payment under this Policy if you have kept to the terms of the Policy; and the statement and answers in your Proposal are true.'


AN earplug - an earplug, my reviewer's seat for an earplug.

Last week I felt as frustrated as Richard III seeking a horse as I sat through a highly-emotional play while a woman behind me munched through a plethora of plastic crisp bags. 

As I spend at last two evenings a week in the theatre I try to turn a deaf ear to actions from people who replicate their watching the telly at home habits.

Despite stares and 'tut tuts' from me and other disgruntled theatre-goers, she continued to crunch her way through sensitive scenes of meaty dialogue.

It reminded me of a panto at the Floral Pavilion when a Flintstone-esque family ate their way through fish and chips they had bought in (oh yes they did).

I can only hope that theatres will announce before every curtain up: 'Switch off your mobile phones and please do not ruin the experience for others by talking or chomping your way through boiled sweets and three-course snacks.'

That would get my five stars every time.


HATS off to the fifth series finale of Peaky Blinders - a TV drama loosely based on the Midlands gangs who concealed razor blades in their peak caps.

They are the UK's equivalent of those other small screen mobsters - The Sopranos.

Now the bad guys are helping boost tourism in Birmingham which is up by 26 per cent.

I hope Merseyside, where scenes have been shot, also gets its fare share.

It's a pity the subject matter is so violent in these crime-dominated days.

I am inspired by its title and am now pitching a children's series set in Hilbre Island called Beaky Finders, about a gang of duck detectives.


And finally ...

VISITING the Liverpool Dental Museum, I learned about George Washington's wooden dentures and other historical gnashers.

One item would now be an ideal exhibit ... King Edward VIII's molar from four years after his abdication in 1940.

His stained wisdom tooth was most definitely not a crown. The Duke clearly had a phobia about such things. 

Peter Grant