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24th July 2024 11:31 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Thomas Cook – an unfortunate truth

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I was slightly surprised that every Thomas Cook customer seen on TV, seemed “horrified”, “surprised”, “dazed”, and “bewildered”, leading me to assume that they had collectively failed to read a single newspaper report that suggested or even hinted at the fact that TC was on its uppers; and even if it wasn’t, it was so badly run, it couldn’t operate a small tea shack on the A420, without killing someone or getting sued.

You probably think me unfair? I googled the news (here’s the LINK)  between 1st August 2018 and 1st May 2019, when I guessed TC customers, now stranded and “HSD&B”, might have booked their break. I wanted to see for myself whether there was any clue for the average sentient human being, that all was not well. Bloody Nora – are you kidding me? I was only looking for some small hint that might have made me think twice. Instead, it was a catalogue of near-daily disasters. All was well, providing I could ignore:

Proper Plannng Prevents….
  • The Egyptian poisoning scandal – which might have been carbon monoxide poisoning
  • The E-coli issue,
  • The share collapse in November 2018
  • The Feb 2019 announcement that TC was conducting a “strategic review” of its airline as it sought to find funds to invest more in its hotels business.
  • The March 2019 stores closure and 300 jobs loss
  • The April 2019 story that TC was selling to Fosun
  • And on and on and ….

I’m sorry peeps, but that’s what the news is for. The news IS NOT what your friends said on SnapNumpty or TwitsRuS – those are opinions. And yes Doris did look lovely in the mud-bath in her surprise weekend break in the foothills of Shathah, not far from Aleppo. But I still ain’t going there. Yes, I am aware, Charlene, that our lives closely mirror those depicted in “Screwed in Ascot” or “Stuffed in Essex” or “Pitiful Island”. You’re absolutely right, it’s all real because it’s on the telly and extra bits can be found on your salted caramel flavour of social media.

I don’t sound very sympathetic, do I? I might have been less cross, had I not seen on the news, Little Dorrit, in the background of the arrival back of the Amoebas from Bagshot looking HSD&B, being physically shoved behind her mum because of course, Little Dorrit was meant to be sick at home. She was not meant to be skiving on holiday and missing the extinction-level school walk-out. She was not alone! There were hundreds of weeping children at airports, busy not being there.

My exasperation grew further today when a friend re-messaged a William Golding quote from one of his many Internet friends. Like so many other quotes on the Internet, this has been hacked to death by some arrogant little tyke, who thought they should inform the world of their position…. on anything and everything. So he or she took two lines from a piece of audio, which is a famous Golding quote relating to, and originally spoken in a lecture about, the origins and meaning of Lord of the Flies. They then added some lines from the American author, Erick Gray et voila. The perpetrators of this tosh, then credited Golding, impoverishing his memory and craft, while simultaneously denying Gray, who lives and works in New York, any credit for his contribution, which might in the 21st century have resonance and validity, if only we knew it’s context. Of course, we only know that any of this is true because the internet said so. The audiotape of Golding talking may have been fiddled with, and what he actually said was “I hate children, Christmas cake, labradors, the sun’s rays,  and all women.” Fortunately, there is a copy in the Smithsonian. Probably.

Is it this uncertainty that dissuades people from checking the facts anymore? Even when it directly impacts on their mental, social and financial well-being? At the moment, it really does feel that providing it tastes sweet, and looks good, and doesn’t feel like a rotting fish, they’re going to buy into it and pass it on. More importantly, and because they get a little extra dose of dopamine from all the likes and positive comments on WhizzApps, they’ll change it slightly so even more people like them.

Robert Louis Stevenson, not the inventor of the Rocket as Wikipedia once perhaps claimed, did suggest that

“Truth in spirit, not truth to the letter, is the true veracity,”

RL Stevenson

For the philosophical purist, this presents an appropriately Jekyll and Hyde scenario that precisely matches where we’re at with the Internet. The belief that “true veracity” lies in the detail’s spirit rather than its exactitude, implies that it’s OK if we embroider any facts – providing we remain vaguely close to the nub of the issue. Perhaps in Tonga, that becomes a close RWC game with only a few points in it, while Thomas Cook’s collapse was an appalling surprise and shock and entirely the Government’s fault).

This dichotomy when associated with technology’s control of all “truths” will, I fear, not work out well.

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