Sexist dictionary, royals, more royals and Ryanair

6 October 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned an example of nominative determinism and, for curiosity, I checked with Reverso, an online dictionary, to see how they translated diable.  Yes, they said the English was ‘devil’ but they then gave examples of its use, one of which was “Tiens-toi tranquille, sinon le diable viendra te chercher” and translated it as “Be a good boy and keep your voice down, or the devil will come and get you”.  Is that sexist or what?  Where did the “boy” come from?  A more literal translation would have been “Keep quiet or the devil will come to look for you”.

This week, the royals have made history with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, taking action against the Daily Mail for publishing a private letter she’d written to her father who, apparently being the man he is portrayed as, had sold it.  The law is quite clear, that copyright in letters remains with the writer even if the letter itself is in somebody else’s hands, so it should be an open and shut case and, with any luck, Paul Dacre will go to prison.  (I’m not actually sure if he was still editor when extracts from the letter were published but he controlled the Daily Mail’s culture for so long, it ought to be him who gets banged up regardless).

Then Harry, her husband, joined with scores of others in a group accusing the Sun and the Daily Mirror (and the now defunct News of the World) of concealing and destroying evidence of phone-hacking twenty years ago.  Perhaps he was suffering from jet-lag, though you don’t actually get jet-lag flying between here and South Africa.

Anyway, wouldn’t you expect all the royals to have the latest encryption security on their phones, even way back then?  Can you imagine a call on an unsecured connection along the lines of “Hello Philip, Lillibet here, please go and turn the heating up, then walk the dogs and fix the tap washer in my bathroom” followed by a third person breaking in and saying “Hang on a minute, Paul Dacre here, can you slow down a bit, I don’t do shorthand?”

Mind you, Harry’s father had some extremely embarrassing calls to Camilla recorded by a hacker many years ago and he’s still going to be king if his mother doesn’t outlive him.

Incidentally, we call Mrs King ‘Queen’ – King George VI’s wife was Queen Elizabeth – why don’t we call Mr Queen ‘King’, as in King Philip?  Isn’t that discriminatory?  And do you think that, if the Queen dies first, Philip will become the King Father, following the precedent set by his mother-in-law’s title?

Much less surprising to those of us who have been very expensively screwed by them in the past is the news that Aviation ADR, one of the two schemes that arbitrates serious complaints against airlines, received more than 14,000 complaints about Ryanair in the first 11 months of 2018 and told the airline to pay more than £2.6m compensation to passengers they’d let down, plus a £75 administration fee for each claim.

Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary, who will do anything for money (remember when he said he’d wipe passengers’ bums for a fiver?), took the escape route and withdrew Ryanair from the Aviation ADR compensation scheme so it wouldn’t ever have to compensate passengers again for messing them around.  Since Ryanair withdrew from the scheme, only 553 passengers have bothered to claim through the Civil Aviation Authority, the only other independent arbitrator, because it has no power to enforce Ryanair to pay anything even if the CAA finds them guilty.

Most normal people would have realised there was a need to improve reliability and service but, begorrah and heavens to Betsy, this might reduce what O’Leary strips out of the company (€99m last year, despite an almost unprecedented 49.5% of shareholders voting against it – even closer to defeat than the referendum).

As someone who flew Ryanair just once and had to pay an extra £1,000 to get back from Rome when they cancelled flights and said they couldn’t bring us home until at least four days later, I have never (and won’t ever) fly Ryanair again and I suspect (hope) that, at long last, the wheel is beginning to turn.

Mind you, we discovered the difference between steerage and business class some years ago when BA was offering some very cheap tickets in a sale and we flew business class to Calgary for roughly the cost of flying from London to Shetland.  Having done this once, I’m now seriously disinclined ever to fly steerage again on long-haul flights and, if I’m going to be on a train for more than about an hour, I travel first class.  I know this is a really terrible and embarrassing thing to admit but, in my defence, I will say that I very rarely use trains and, last year, I gave 4% of my income to charities (yes, I’m doing my tax return – impressive eh!)

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