Anglo-American faux pas are a two-way street

Simon Calder: The Man Who Pays His Way

The contempt of film-makers for geography raised its spotty head again yesterday when
102 Dalmatians opened in London - well, I
think it was London. Picking up where they left off in
101 Dalmatians, in which only Primrose Hill was recognisable as being part of the capital, Walt Disney Pictures has created a new, virtual version. The office of Cruella De Vil's probation officer (yes, that's probation officer - the plot stretches credibility just a tad) must be slung from a cable between the Millennium Wheel and Big Ben, judging from the view from the virtual window. When a puppy nearly tumbles out of the high-rise office, the main road below suddenly transforms to Queen Victoria Street, two miles away in the City.

The contempt of film-makers for geography raised its spotty head again yesterday when 102 Dalmatians opened in London - well, I think it was London. Picking up where they left off in 101 Dalmatians, in which only Primrose Hill was recognisable as being part of the capital, Walt Disney Pictures has created a new, virtual version. The office of Cruella De Vil's probation officer (yes, that's probation officer - the plot stretches credibility just a tad) must be slung from a cable between the Millennium Wheel and Big Ben, judging from the view from the virtual window. When a puppy nearly tumbles out of the high-rise office, the main road below suddenly transforms to Queen Victoria Street, two miles away in the City.

Talking of cities - Westminster has been downgraded by Disney. In a bid not to confuse an America audience that is familiar with Manhattan being a borough of New York City, the City of Westminster is described throughout as the "Borough". After sitting through about 102 minutes of having metropolitan assumptions mangled, I could barely find my way home.

None of which matters, as long as the audience is entertained and tourists don't arrive expecting unlovely Green Park tube station to be a quiet, above-ground rural idyll, complete with pre-Railtrack signal box, as it appears in the film.

Surely, though, Eurostar is alarmed by the impression that is created of the method of reaching Paris from London by train? In 102 Dalmatians, it is a simple matter of turning up at St Pancras station, blissfully free of barriers and security controls, and boarding the Orient Express. St Pancras may be Britain's most magnificent station, but it is more familiar to users as the Midland Mainline terminus for trains to the East Midlands (the kind that take nine hours to reach Nottingham).

In fact, the official line from the cross-Channel train company about the depiction is that "Eurostar endorses it as a foretaste of what is to come." St Pancras is due to become the main terminal for trains to the Continent in 2007.

Disney has actually done a deal with Eurostar to deck out one of its international trains with several hundred Dalmatian-style spots to publicise the new movie. But these are the only hounds likely to get aboard the Waterloo to Paris express; unlike Eurotunnel and Britain's railway companies, Eurostar bans pets from inside its trains.

IT HARDLY befits me to throw geographic stones at American film-makers when, in the past few weeks, I have not grasped US cartography as well as I might.

Cleveland is on Lake Erie, not Lake Ontario, points out John Mason of Lincoln. Forest Hansen e-mails to say that Edward H "Butch" O'Hare, after whom Chicago's main airport is named, was a pilot, not a politician. And a reader phones, anonymously but politely: "You say there are no direct flights between the UK and Kentucky, and suggest people fly to Cincinatti airport, across the state border in Ohio. In fact, Cincinatti International Airport is actually in Kentucky."

It turns out that Cincinatti - like Rome, Rio and the Sydney suburb of Seven Hills - is built on seven hills. So the city authorities chose a flat piece of land just across the state line in Boone County, Kentucky to build the airport.

* The Royal Courts of Justice is a decidedly no-frills sort of place, at least for those us without access to the legal flight deck. Indeed, the only frills in sight were woven in the wigs worn by the judge and barristers.

My judicial journey began on Tuesday in a manner familiar to any flyer. I scanned the board for the correct departure gate for British Airways vs Ryanair, and found my way to gate, sorry, Court 16. There was hardly any legroom, no complimentary catering and no smoking.

British Airways should have seen the writing on the fuselage, and headed straight for the emergency exit. Instead, the airline's legal team strapped themselves in for a turbulent fight to prove that Ryanair had committed a malicious falsehood with a newspaper advertisement headlined "Expensive Ba----ds".

In the ad, the no-frills airline compared its lowest fares from London, which had restrictions attached, with BA's highest economy fares, which carried no restrictions. In the cases where BA had, inconveniently, chosen not to fly to a certain place, Ryanair picked a city many miles away and used that fare instead.

At the time, I wrote that this did not appear to be a reasonable base for comparison. BA actually used the story in evidence, to no avail: Mr Justice Jacob concluded "The complaint amounts to this: that Ryanair exaggerate in suggesting BA is five times more expensive because BA is only three times more expensive." And buried in his closely argued, 20-page judgement, is the remarkable fact that the official tariffs of the International Air Traffic Association do not have a category for "return fare".

* A drinking fountain at Seattle airport performs a neat trick when you press the button to take a drink: it activates a loudspeaker that plays soothing sub-aqua noises while you sip. A trivial bonus for the stressed and thirsty traveller.

Sensible flyers know that drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids is essential before and during any long flight. Water fountains are handily installed in the departure lounges at Britain's two biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. But on my last visits to each airport,they had run dry. And parked next to each defunct fountain was a colossal vending machine selling small bottles of water for £1.

The airport's owner, BAA, flatly refutes the suggestion that it no longer wants to give water away. The operator says drinking fountains are still widely available, and that any catering outlet will provide a glass of water upon request. But the profits on the bottled variety are prodigious; the airport sells wine almost as cheaply as it does water. Even duty-paid, a litre bottle of Piat d'Or costs just £4.33, only one-third more than a litre of water.

I am glad there is no official policy of "no hydration without remuneration", because of the adverse effect on Britain's image. It is unfortunate enough that we entice millions of foreign visitors here on the promise of weather that is "warm and semi-tropical in parts", according to the official British Tourist Authority publication I mentioned last week, UK The Guide 2001; and that the government charges visitors £20 to leave the country by air. Now, the final memory that they may have of Britain is of the place where you have to pay $1.50 or 330 yen or 1,000,000 Turkish lire for that most basic of travellers' essentials, a drink of water.

* Talking of a million Turkish lire: "I was in Sheki the day before yesterday," reports Matt Rudd from north west Azerbaijan. Mr Rudd, assistant editor of Wanderlust magazine and contributor to these pages, goes on to say that he joined the local community in the TV room.

"They were watching the Turkish version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Of course it wouldn't have been as compelling for my Azeri friends if the prize had been just a million lire (the equivalent of £1). The 16th question is in fact worth 500 billion Turkish lire, more commonly known as £500,000."

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?