Staff shortages caused by Covid-19 are causing havoc across most of the airlines. | MDB

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We’ve joined a walking group here in The Cotswolds and last Friday was my first foray into walking miles in the countryside whilst looking like you are actually enjoying it. In truth, we have always done quite a lot of walking in Mallorca, outside of the late spring and summer months when the heat would make it more than a little difficult.

Anyway, on a bright sunny and warmish day we set forth with about fifteen other souls on a circular 6 mile walk striding out in a way that befits a man of early(?) middle age. Unhappily, I think that I may not have ‘paced’ myself sufficiently because when reaching a rather steep incline towards the end of the walk I faded rather badly and the rest of the group had to wait for me at the top of a hill. How embarrassing - after telling all who would listen that the Tramuntana Mountain range in Mallorca held no fears for me as I was an experienced and expert hiker who had all the right gear and a knapsack full of energy drinks, chocolate and fruit. As I staggered up to the rest of our group, I felt a muscular spasm in my left calf muscle and had a bad case of the ‘stitch.’

Worse was to come however - as I hurled my leading leg over one of the many wooden stiles I encountered on the way, I somehow managed to tweak my left hamstring and had to limp back to the local village pub for lunch, where I was given a warm and slightly sarcastic round of applause for my efforts.

Much worse was to come though! Who would have imagined that two ham and mustard sandwiches - a pint of local beer plus a ginger ale would cost me almost twenty quid?

WATCHDOG TELLS AIRLINES TO - PAY UP

I have been following with interest tales emanating from the island via social media and the Bulletin’s online output regarding cancelled flights leading up to the Easter break. It seems that things such as staff shortages caused by Covid-19 are causing havoc across most of the airlines.

However, I read in a UK based newspaper that airlines are being urged to stop cancelling flights at the last minute and promptly pay compensation to disrupted passengers and have been warned by the industries regulator in a rare intervention. The chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the airlines watchdog, has written to UK-registered airlines expressing his frustration and concerns at the service that many travellers have received in recent days. In a statement the authority said - “late notice cancellations and excessive delays at airports are not only distressing for affected customers but also have the potential to impact confidence levels across the industry.” Not all carries are UK based of course, but there is pressure building so that passengers should “…as a minimum be given notice of cancellations so they do not travel to airports only to find their flight is no longer operating.”

However, is this really practical in the real world when crew members and others fail to report for their allotted shifts just before take-off? There is one bonus however - it seems that those bloody-minded French air-traffic controllers, who usually chose to strike around this time of year haven’t done so, as yet. Every cloud - every cloud!

“CAN YOU HEAR ME? I’M ON A TRAIN!”

Do you remember when mobile phones first came into use and men in pubs and on trains would loudly tell all who didn’t need to listen, that they were in fact at the very cutting edge of modern communications? Indeed, last Sunday was the 49th anniversary of the very first mobile phone call, but times they are a changing! It seems that people now want the speed and simplicity of WhatsApp or social media rather than messing about making phone calls. Answerphone messages are apparently seen as a nuisance, with more that one in ten saying that they delete them without even listening to them.

Rather touchingly, 45% of younger people would still rather talk via a phone when talking to their parents. Aaahhh - isn’t that nice? The difference being that today you are not surrounded by the sound of people shouting into their mobiles, just blank eyed individuals constantly fiddling about with their devices in a sort of miasma of indifference. This news comes just a few days after BT shelved their controversial plans to replace all landline phones as pensioners and others kicked up a fuss because of the lack of public debate on the subject. However, I don’t think that anyone expects a landline service to be available for very much longer.

THE OBESITY DEBATE IS GOING POLITICAL

I don’t know if the same debate about obesity is raging in Spain as it is in Britain at the moment, but here it has got very political. First of all, I have mentioned before in these pages that one of the first things that you notice when arriving in the UK is the fact that being overweight seems to be the absolute norm.

I watched a television programme the other day which compared a normal street scene in London during the mid 1960’s and present day. You will probably not be surprised that apart from the cars on the roads and the fashions of the time, the one thing that jumped out at anyone interested enough to take note - was the size and shape of the ordinary men and women walking about their business.

To put it mildly I was shocked, if not surprised. In terms of the ‘political’ aspect to this subject, medical professionals seem to be divided about how to even approach the subject with patients. Nobody wants to see ‘fat shaming’ taking place, but many doctors refuse to categorise weight gain as a ‘disease’ and say that in most circumstances obesity is self-inflicted and needs to be viewed in that context. However, medical rows have broken out regarding this subject and it has taken a political turn as well.

Doctors point out that bad diet is to blame - that with unhealthy fast food that is cheap to buy and easy to prepare is the biggest culprit. This in turn, is an argument that profiles the poorest in society as those under threat from obesity via an unhealthy diet. It has been argued that in the past the poorest in society were the thinnest because of lack of food, whereupon the wealthy were often grossly overweight - as some would say, the complete reversal as to what we have in society at the moment.