Now that the volcanic ash is finally settling on the surreal week that will forever be known (because we can't pronounce the alternative) as the crazy Icelandic volcano fiasco, we can begin to identify the Eyjafjallajökull winners and losers. Unfortunately for those of us who prefer a steady moral compass, all the good guys turn out to be baddies, and the bad guys are suddenly heroes.
In a world in which it is seldom easy to know the right thing to do, it has been reassuring that at least modern travel is subject to strict, moral rules. Flying is bad because it speeds up climate change. Public transport is good for you (it must be because it feels so horrid). So we hippies can vote with our feet and only patronise the ethical businesses. But what happens when the ethical ones turn out to be scumbags?
The past week has turned our values system on its head. Drivers and cabbies have turned out to be patient and heroic, while the owners of ferries and family-run B&Bs are revealed as selfish graspers. Thomas Cook has overturned its reputation as a hard-nosed business used by smug Jamie and Louise Redknapp types and revels in its new role as generous protector of the stranded traveller. Meanwhile, a short trip on a British train has proved to be as expensive and exhausting as a year's 5-star cruise around the Caribbean.
Speaking of Caribbean cruises, the Celebrity Eclipse used its maiden voyage to rescue 2,000 passengers, not only taking them home but giving them champagne, too. "What better way to bless a new ship than by doing a small bit of good in a very big problem?" shrugged their Miami-based chairman, bringing tears to the eyes of British voters who would like him to stand for election here, quick. There's something so humbling about a rich man who volunteers to help, rather than just volunteering his policy that everybody else should be stepping forward to work for free.
Most disconcertingly of all, Willie Walsh, the obstreperous chief executive of British Airways, bravely boarded the test flight that ended the chaos, making it frustratingly difficult to go on hating him very much. Ryanair's double agent Michael O'Leary, meanwhile, continued to do his bit for his real employers in the green lobby, by making budget travel so unpleasant that soon nobody will want to fly anywhere and the world will be saved. That must make the shambles doubly embarrassing for God, who will surely sack His PR firm after insurance companies revealed that it was His "act" that caused the whole thing. (Only conspiracy theorists say that the BBC's pronunciation department started it, in order to have something to do. And the right-wing press obviously couldn't prove that it was all Nick Clegg's fault, or they would have pinned the smoking gun on him.)
I can't help thinking there's mileage in this for individuals who need an image boost. Instead of chuntering on about how it's all the Government's fault, or questioning the science behind banning flights (thank you, Professor Boris Johnson), these people should be queuing for the next test flight. I bet there are many business leaders whose customers would like to see them hurtling through volcanic debris on their behalf. Any takers?
Say cheese: Poor Nigella, rushed off her feet by photographers
Just as we'd all started to warm to Nigella Lawson again, if only for the reason that whatever she does she's at least preferable to that poor man's Nigella-a-like Sophie Dahl, another bizarre piece of self-parody has emerged from the sumptuous kitchen of the original domestic goddess.
"I have a team of girls who are now very grown-up women..." the divine Ms L has confessed. "I had very small children and I didn't know how I could shop and cook and wash up and look after my children and have my photograph taken, so I needed someone to help."
Once again, can we all chorus together: there is no need to feel guilty about employing a nanny, for heaven's sake. Shopping and cooking and washing up and looking after children is very hard work, I'm sure we all agree. But throwing in that bit about having her photograph taken to show that her life is really that much harder than the average working mother's – that's just insulting.
In fact, anyone who has ever seen Nigella's cookery show will already know that this is not a woman who does her own washing up. Sneaking downstairs for a midnight snack doesn't feel quite so decadent when you've used every bowl, pan and utensil in the house to make it (and invented a few more besides, and had them mass-produced in sensuous duck egg blue and sold under your name in branches of Waitrose), and you creep into the kitchen in your silk pyjamas to find that they're sitting in the sink, covered in congealing fat and three inches of cold greasy water, still waiting for the dish-washing fairies to come.
Good for curry, England and St George
Chefs hats off to the four cooks from Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants in Britain, who spent St George's Day in Kolkata at the 10-day Taste of Britain Curry Festival. Apparently their hosts were delighted to sample a chicken tikka masala, that most English of dishes. An 1846 poem by William Makepeace Thackeray, shows that a proper English curry originated well before the soupy modern beer-sponge that we relish today, though the curry in the poem doesn't sound very nice – it's made with 3lb of veal, five large onions, lashings of curry powder, and milk. We probably have to thank the British soldiers who were stationed in India during the Second World War for bringing their taste for curry back to this island. I'll be celebrating St George's weekend with a lamb jalfrezi, then. Don't hold the chillies, of course – I'm British.
Calendar girls are out of date
According to the John Cooper Clarke song, you "never see a nipple in the Daily Express". But now nipples are all over the tabloids, thanks to the latest nudie calendar.
A group calling themselves Swags – service wives and girlfriends – have been raising money for Help the Heroes by stripping. The charity calendar has a naked food fight, for August, girls n' guns in April and November and, in June, two naked women spread-eagled against a chain-link fence while a third, wearing only a military police cap, stands guard with a fierce dog.
It's 30 years since Cooper Clarke's song, and 10 since the Rylstone and District WI stripped for Leukaemia Research. Ten years in which a witty, tasteful and empowering idea has evolved into a lame excuse to make mucky pictures for squaddies. Considerably bigger buns, please.Reuse content