Simon Calder: Capital letters - a case of the shakes

Simon Calder: The man who pays his way

in the old days - 1969, to be precise - the singer-songwriter melanie brought out an album in which all the lyrics were printed in lower-case.
candles in the rain, as the lp was entitled, did not sell a fraction as many copies as elton john's "candle in the wind". one reason, i suspect, was that the listening public was irritated by the frivolous absence of capital letters.

in the old days - 1969, to be precise - the singer-songwriter melanie brought out an album in which all the lyrics were printed in lower-case. candles in the rain, as the lp was entitled, did not sell a fraction as many copies as elton john's "candle in the wind". one reason, i suspect, was that the listening public was irritated by the frivolous absence of capital letters.

now, the travelling public must get used to the irritation of yet another airline deciding to forego the use of the shift key on the highly paid logo-designer's keyboard. bmi british midland is the new identity of one of the uk's most illustrious airlines, which has now decided to go the same way as the no-frills carrier buzz and the tour operator jmc in dispensing with upper-case. "it's fresh, lively, stylish, contemporary, understated," says a bmi british midland spokeswoman.

* Ah, that's better. The original no-frills airline, easyJet, must share some responsibility for starting this nonsense, but at least a capital letter pops up halfway through, to signal to the reader that this is an affectation rather than an error. British Midland has not just been typographically diminished, it is now also secondary to the three-acronym BMI, as the airline will henceforth appear in these pages.

Until now, the world has known BMI as Broadcast Music Inc, the American performing-rights society that ensures singers and songwriters get paid every time their songs are on the radio (which in the case of Melanie, these days is, thankfully, rarely).

It would be reasonable to conclude that the first two letters of BMI stand for British Midland, and to make a reasonable stab at "International" for the "I". Not true, says Landor Associates. The design company, and the airline, remain cagey about what the "I" (or "i") stands for. "Nothing in particular," is the official response.

So as a service to prospective passengers, I have been speculating about what BMI might mean. Just as the Portuguese airline TAP has been expanded to Take Another Plane, BMI could unkindly stand, as a reflection of the annoying tunes they play on the public address system, for Banal Music Inflight. Given the airline's with-frills service, perhaps it is Breakfast Mostly Included; with the carrier's excellent safety record, it clearly doesn't mean Buy More Insurance. Or is the brand a subliminal promotion for a rival airline: Book Monarch Instead?

The airline should have reverted to one of its previous existences. Not the original 1938 name of Air Schools Ltd, which sounds a tad underqualified, but the 1949 choice Derby Aviation (or, if you prefer the fresh, lively, stylish, contemporary, understated version, derbyaviation).

At least it doesn't sound like a piece of anaesthetist's jargon, like the official abbreviation for another rival, British Mediterranean Airways: BMed.

* One hundred years ago this month, plans were unveiled in Berlin to construct a new railway between the German capital and Hamburg that would allow trains to travel between the two cities at 125mph. Two world wars and the partition of the nation put the plan on hold, and since unification, the idea has since been superseded by a magnetic levitation track allowing speeds of 200 mph - but that remains firmly on the drawing-board. A century after the acceleration was first mooted, even the fastest express plods along at an average of only 75mph.

* Such slouchy progress has not stopped the German airline, Lufthansa, from having a pop about the railways in Britain: "Most trains are virtually empty," records the inflight magazine. "People go by car or bus. But should they propose to close down an unprofitable line or cancel an unprofitable connection, the ensuing public outcry makes it impossible. Simply the knowledge that the trains are running, whether one uses them or not, is fundamental to British peace of mind." Lufthansa had a vested interest in doing down the train, because for a time it operated domestic flights between Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne. These were abandoned as unprofitable. But given the woeful state of the cross-country rail network, when a train between Newcastle and Plymouth can take 16 hours, they could make a comeback.

* Another year, another travel loophole closed. The handy thing about flights within Britain and across the Irish Sea is that no passports are required. This has led to a lively "grey market" in airline tickets - plenty of people have discovered that, as long as you're approximately the right gender, you can travel within the British Isles on someone else's ticket. (In America, airlines are even more lax about who's aboard; Delta flew me from Miami to Atlanta in the fond belief that I was named Sandra Calderon.

Inconveniently, the no-frills airline Ryanair has decided to make sure that all the people on its planes are who they say they are. It now insists that passengers show a photo ID at check-in. One family flying between Stansted and Dublin interpreted this rule literally, and turned up with the framed group portrait of parents and children straight from the mantelpiece.

Yes, they were allowed on board.

* Antananarivo, Tegucigalpa, Vladivostok - resonant cities all. Which is why, when the guidebook publisher Lonely Planet needed to come up with names for meeting rooms at its newly expanded London office, staff settled on the exotic trio. "Hang on," piped up a junior down the table. "If I'm e-mailing people to tell them where to meet, I really don't want to type any of those." So they agreed to limit the names to one-syllable cities. That still embraces a fabulous list of possibilities: Omsk and Tomsk, Nice and Cork, Bonn and Rome. So what did the guidebook funsters finally settle upon? Stoke, Leeds and Crewe.

* simon.calder@independent.co.uk

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments