Open Jaw: Alan Whicker at 84

Where readers write back

As a young BBC film editor, I had the immense privilege and pleasure of working with Alan Whicker on a series based around a QE2 world cruise. Despite having to deal with literally miles of footage, he was the consummate professional who always displayed impeccable kindness and manners – a rare event in today's television.

Alan's ability to write a perfect script line on demand was awe-inspiring and he also possessed the greatest gift of all – to pause after an interview answer which would often prompt the interviewee to continue with an unexpected gem.

"Hayneman"

Whicker's genius is to persuade us that to travel and to experience all it has to offer is a pleasure in itself. A perfect English gentleman. There are not many left.

"ExPatJoe"

Whicker said after stopping a locomotive in Alaska it was all downhill.

For me, it was being down to one dollar in India when the airport tax was seven dollars, and I was still in the city. It was arriving in Sri Lanka and settling into a beach shack two days before the tsunami. It was being arrested for breach of contract when I didn't deliver my blonde-haired wife after shaking hands to sell her for 24 camels in Marrakech in 1972 (a brilliant Moroccan scam).

There are still tons and tons of adventures out there, if you're prepared to take a few risks.

"Prague teacher"

Heathrow: a Third World airport experience?

I'm amazed you've defended Heathrow. If there was a subtext to Cardinal Kasper's argument then I deplore that, but he's right that Heathrow is a Third World experience. I have even texted that phrase as I shuffle disbelievingly while stuck in a security queue for 45 minutes in Terminal 3.

Leaving is bad enough, but arriving back in T3 from airports such as Changi in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Saigon is an embarrassment. And have you travelled to Ireland recently from Terminal 1? The new system is truly unbelievable.

Catherine McCrohan

Ebbsfleet ebbs

Not a surprise, really, that Eurostar is cutting back services. The train operators don't have to pay for shiny new stations, so they feel no compunction to actually respect any promises they might have made about using them.

An important new station in Germany would see hourly service all day in all directions. If not better. But then they know how to run a railway.

"Chris 5797"

Italian irregularities

Your story about scams in Italy (11 September) prompts me to write about a problem I encountered on a recent trip. I used to think the traveller needed only two words in Italian: quanto ("how much?") and troppo ("too much!"). Nowadays troppo is often not necessary but a new one is: convalidare, "to validate", now essential on Italian trains.

Buying a ticket is not enough; to prevent fraud, it must be stamped at a small yellow box located somewhere on or near a platform. However that assumes that you are looking for it in the first place, which is highly unlikely for the average visitor unaccustomed to the practice. The fine for failing to do so is €40 for each ticket. Foreigners are often allowed to pay a penalty of only €5 per ticket, if it is clear they bought the correct ticket and it is a genuine mistake.

Neil Taylor

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests