Stranger Things

Stranger Things

Brexit planning, rampaging monkeys, and the disappearing breakfast are just a few of the weird things happening in the travel world

The late blues singer Sister Rosetta Thorpe, who ushered gospel music into nightclubs and saloons in the 1930s and ‘40s, and in the process lit a firecracker under rock ‘n roll, had a hit in 1945 that provides an occasional fix of reassurance: “Strange Things Happening Every Day.”

It’s true these days in travel, where there are indeed strange things happening every day. Consider:

            1) Brexit Bugaboos Make Britain Bonkers: They’re stockpiling groceries and even auto parts in the UK as the deadline looms for Britain to exit the European Union (Brexit).  Bloomberg reports that caterers at 20 UK airports are stocking up on in-flight meals that are usually shipped from caterers in Germany and Spain… But really:

            2) Bail Britannia? The Sunday Times of London says that a Cold War-era emergency plan has been dusted off to evacuate 92-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and her cantankerous 97-year-old husband Prince Philip from Buckingham Palace to an “undisclosed location” in the event of post-Brexit “social unrest.”  In reaction, some wags pointed to the mid-January accident near the royal country estate in Sandringham when Philip, driving alone and sporting sunglasses, pulled onto a highway and was T-boned by another car. “I’m a fool!” the prince reportedly lamented as rescuers extracted him through the sun roof of his flipped-over Land Rover with only a wrist injury. Someone tweeted that the main reason to be alarmed about a plan to bail the Queen out of London if rioting ensues is “if they let Philip drive.”

           3) Seriously, though, says the World Travel and Tourism Council: if the UK does leave the EU, more than 700,000 travel industry jobs in the UK and in Europe could be at risk. Britain has the world’s fifth largest travel and tourism economy.

            4) 'Run!’ — Soldiers have a word for it that begins with cluster****.  There was chaos at the Orlando airport a few weeks ago when an off-duty TSA officer fell or jumped to his death from a hotel balcony high above the terminal’s sprawling atrium. The tragic incident scattered more than a thousand passengers, some of whom rushed through checkpoints as TSA agents shouted “Run!” That mess actually created the sort of  pandemonium that security experts have long warned is conducive to an actual terrorist. “The effect on the terminal was far from anything vaguely resembling security,” said Michael Boyd, of the Boyd Group International aviation forecasting firm, a frequent critic of TSA security procedures. ”There was no communication of control of the situation. Just ‘Run!’” he said. More than 100 flights were canceled, and security-line backups lasted for hours.

             5) In strange happenings elsewhere in the world, irate urban monkeys are on the rampage in Kuala Lumpur, attacking tourists and residents alike as that booming Malaysian city expands into once-forested areas that the monkeys reasonably regard as their turf … With warming climates, at least a third of the vast Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2100, destabilizing Asia’s rivers, according to a major new report by ICIMOD, the environmental research agency … Travelers in Australia are marveling at the searing, climate-change-induced summer heat that made January the hottest month ever recorded there. In Northern Queensland, where “once-in-a-century” monsoon rainfalls have been the heaviest in memory, authorities in the popular tourist destination of Townsville are warning about crocodiles turning up in areas where you don’t expect them. Snakes, too. “Snakes are very good swimmers,” the Queensland environmental minister, Leeanne Enoch, told the BBC. … If you’re planning on attending the popular Salon du Livre book fair in Paris next month, be aware that French linguists have their culottes in a twist again, and are protesting incursions of English terminology into the book fair, such as the listing of a “Young Adult” category, as a “serious attack” on the French language. … Meanwhile, back in Blighty, the august medical journal BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) debunked the oft-repeated notion that having a hearty breakfast is the best way to start off your day and keep the pounds off. The BMJ report suggests that skipping breakfast altogether is the more effective way to do it.

Myself, I have long thought that “Full English breakfast” are among the three most worrisome words in English, so at least I find some reassurance in my firm belief that a buttered croissant and a nice cup of coffee in the morning, followed by a very good repast in the afternoon, is the best way to go. Incidentally, the French have a word for that: le déjeuner



MEMO PAD – United Airlines plans to refit some of its 767-300s to add more business-class seats in key business-travel markets … Focusing on the big picture, Hilton’s Conrad Maldives Rangali Resort has added “Instagram butlers” to help guests set up their shots … Jiminy Cricket! Disneyland daily ticket prices went up 25 percent this year, months before the opening of the $1-billion, 14-acre “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” section. The cheapest daily ticket now costs almost $100. … Vegetables and other plant-based cuisine traditionally have been side dishes, but are increasingly taking “center stage” as entrees, according to a 2019 culinary forecast by the National Restaurant Association.  “Why have carrots, rutabagas and radishes suddenly become sexy? Partly because chefs have found techniques that draw out their rich and nuanced flavors,” the trade group explains.

About the Author: Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey’s work appears in major national and international publications. For 19 years, until 2015, he was a columnist for the New York Times — for 16 years doing the weekly “On the Road” column on business travel, and before that the weekly “Jersey” column for three years. He is currently a columnist with Business Jet Traveler magazine, and an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Arizona. A Vietnam veteran, he has written five books, four non-fiction and a novel. One of his nonfiction books, “Above Suspicion,” has been adapted as a major motion picture starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, Thora Birch and Johnny Knoxville (and directed by Phillip Noyce), to be released soon. In January 2017, a new, revised edition of his book “Above Suspicion” was published in print and as an e-book by Open Road Media. Penguin Random House also released an audio book version in January. Open Road also published revised editions in e-book format of his true-crime books “Death Sentence” and “Deadly Greed.” In January 2018, the revised edition of “Death Sentence” was published in print by Open Road Media. In his newspaper career before the New York Times, he was an assistant national editor at the Wall Street Journal; the executive city editor of the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union; and a reporter and columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. On Sept. 29, 2006, while on assignment, he was one of seven people on a business jet who survived a mid-air collision with a 737 at 37,000 feet over the Amazon in Brazil. All 154 on the commercial airliner died. His reports on the crash appeared on the front page of the New York Times and later in the Sunday Times of London Magazine. He and his wife Nancy (who is a professor of journalism at the University of Arizona) live in Tucson — where he is also working on a new novel about the exploits of an international travel writer who hates to travel. .