Simon Calder: The Man Who Pays His Way

Thanks to David Beckham's penalty, June is unlikely to prove a licence to print euros for Britain's holiday companies.

Glum – that sums up the mood in parts of the travel industry at 2.21 yesterday afternoon. Now that England no longer look like coming home in ignominy, the surge in sales that tour operators and travel agents were expecting failed to materialise.

Glum – that sums up the mood in parts of the travel industry at 2.21 yesterday afternoon. Now that England no longer look like coming home in ignominy, the surge in sales that tour operators and travel agents were expecting failed to materialise. Thanks to David Beckham's penalty, June is unlikely to prove a licence to print euros for Britain's holiday companies.

"You've done the flag-waving, the face-painting and the pub-going in old blighty," gasped a circular from the website www.opodo.co.uk, sent out an hour after the final whistle, "Now it's time to take it to the sun" – more in hope than expectation, I suspect.

Talking to easyJet, it appears that few are taking up the opportunity of watching England play Nigeria somewhere warm and slightly more exotic than the pub. "We have noticed a kind of World Cup phenomenon," says Samantha Day of the Luton-based no-frills airline. "People are holding on to see how England fare in the Cup before they book their trips. Our call centre was like a whisper during the match. For June there's still a lot of availability and as a result low prices." The prospect of a general strike in Spain 12 days from now is not exactly doing wonders for sales, either.

"If we'd lost today, some people would undoubtedly have gone out and booked holidays," says Rachel O'Reilly of Britain's biggest tour operator, Thomson. "People would have been saying 'Sod it, let's go on holiday'. But from our point of view June bookings are looking pretty good anyway."

Over to Chelsea FC, where the president of the Association of British Travel Agents, Stephen Bath, watched the match in the company of other travel industry luminaries. His post-match reaction: "Money isn't everything. The victory was important for many reasons. A few more percentage points on sales is nothing compared with the thrill of beating Argentina." Surprisingly, his company, Bath Travel, sold every seat on a day-trip from Bournemouth to Iceland yesterday.

"Bookings dipped today," concedes Jim French – managing director of Europe's biggest regional airline, British European, and a Scot. "But these things flatten out. Some people in the industry will blame the World Cup, the Jubilee and any other excuse they can think of if things aren't going according to plan."

The only boss of a tour operator to have played professional football is Terry Williamson, legendary left-back for Crawley Town FC and now managing director of Cosmos. He is looking forward to England going all the way – for profit, as well as patriotism. "When people feel good, they spend money."

Travel Industry offices resembled the Marie Celeste yesterday afternoon – and, in the case of some staff of the guide book publisher Lonely Planet, that is exactly where they were. Their north London local is called the Marie Celeste (not, apparently, as lifeless as it sounds). The guide book compilers were allowed out for a long lunch only if they accepted a wager from management. If England won, then they need not make up the time; but if Argentina won, they were obliged to put in twice as many hours at the end of the day, in football detention.

Talking of gambles: on Wednesday I took one, but discovered the scale of the risk only on Thursday. My unwitting speculation was to buy a ticket, for travel tomorrow, from London to the Welsh resort of Pwllheli.

The scale of the problem should have been apparent when details of the outward journey spilled on to a second ticket. But at the time I was more exercised by the discovery that, to reach Pwllheli by rail the same day, the latest you can leave the capital is 1pm – and finding that it is possible to catch a train from London to Wales and still be travelling seven-and-a-half-hours later .

It was only on Thursday morning, and the Strategic Rail Authority's revelation that one in five trains runs at least 10 minutes late, that the uncertainties of the journey became apparent. My trip involves three changes, with an average of less than 10 minutes allowed for each.

Elementary probability theory reveals that the chances of the first three trains all being under 10 minutes late, and allowing the connections to be made, is just 51 per cent. In other words, there's almost an evens chance that I will end up spending the night at Newport, Shrewsbury or Dovey Junction, depending on where the connection fails.

Meanwhile, I write this column from the Land that House Prices Forgot – a dishevelled corner of London SE1, somewhere east of Waterloo. I am aboard a Connex train that has apparently been abandoned to its fate in a no-trains-land. Earlier in the day I enjoyed similarly extended, static views of Basingstoke station and some railway sidings outside Woking. Three trains, three delays of more than 10 minutes. I content myself with knowing that raw probability says there is only one chance in 125 chance of this mild misfortune. And invoking the travel principle that good and bad travel experiences tend to cancel each other out, I look forward to a flawless performance by the railway teams of England – and Wales – tomorrow. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Is Britain tilting towards Cornwall? According to the new National Rail Timetable, it will be soon. The longest journey is the 12-hour, 15-minute haul from Dundee to Penzance. But no corresponding train makes the journey the other way. So if your train fails to appear, it is probably gathering sand at the end of the line.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas