Matthew Bell: Rant & Rave (08/04/12)

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The Independent Online


It takes a special kind of narcissist to interrupt a major sporting event. Usually, just a drunk one. There's no shortage of those at the university boat race, an annual exercise for the Hoorays of Chiswick to show how posh and loud they can be, while tossing back the Bolly. But if you jumped into the Thames in April, you wouldn't stay smashed for long. So I wonder at what point the man who swam across the race, forcing it to stop – and securing himself a place in history – decided this was a good idea. As we learned from the "comedian" who threw a custard pie at Rupert Murdoch, there's nothing funny about making Alpha-men seem like victims. You may not like the sight of Oxford and Cambridge's American-import hearties battling it out, and for anyone who didn't go to the varsity, it can be hard to care who wins. But, for heavens' sake, please don't interrupt them. It only encourages them to start all over again.


An air hostess has delivered a baby over the Atlantic. Susan Carnes heard screams coming from row 37 of the Delta service from Ghana to Atlanta and swung into action. She cleared five seats and used a shoelace sterilised in vodka to tie off the umbilical cord. "It was a Lion King moment," the 57-year-old told reporters afterwards. It's not known how far into her pregnancy the mother was, though presumably she was within the seven-month limit imposed on air passengers. But then, it turned out to be a successful delivery. Having just flown with Delta for the first time, I'm thinking of having my children delivered up there, when the time comes. I've never met such cheerful air hostesses. It's not often you hear a good word about cabin crew: we're so used to plastic smiles and Ryanair rudeness, that we forget they're essentially underpaid nannies. As tempers fray at airports this Easter, spare a thought for the staff, scurrying between rows of crotchety travellers. We treat them like servants until there's an emergency; then, suddenly, our lives depend on them. And if you are pregnant, don't tell Ryanair – they'll probably slap a charge on for midwifery.