February 18 Now I don’t mind business travellers in general: only the ones who talk loudly about it on public transport so we’ll all know how important they are – like ‘Well I’ll try but I can’t imagine we’ll get Frankfurt to accept that’, or ‘Sorry, can’t make it – I’m in Madrid until Wednesday and Prague the rest of the week’.
Why all this business travel? Whatever happened to video-conferencing? It was going to cut corporate travel costs, reduce executive stress and carbon dioxide emission. So why do business people travel so much?
Because they like to. There are a number of reasons: it’s a tax-free perk and an ego-massage – not to mention those lovely Frequent Flyer miles, gold cards, executive lounges and free upgrades.
There’s nothing nearly so impressive about, ‘Can’t make it – got a video-conference on Tuesday’.
And besides, what would all those Conference Centres do? (Even Maspalomas, where no one makes anything, ships anything or digs anything out of the ground, has one.) Or the ‘Conferences’ departments of the big corporations? What would all those high-flying academics do? (What self-respecting medical academe hasn’t played every golf course in Florida, Oahu or the Algarve, courtesy of a drugs or cosmetics giant?) How would they be able to say ’74.8% of doctors recommend…’?
No, the only thing we can do if we want to save the video-conferencing industry – and incidentally the planet - is either to develop a video-conferencing system that will guarantee a 5 handicap - or do what the Swedes did and tax people on travel perks.
But they won’t – not while Tony likes his Antillean jaunts and not while John (“Why-didn’t-Clapton-shoot-the-Deputy?") Prescott likes to go to Texas and dress up like a Yorkshire dude.
No, business travel is here to stay: I know - I did it for years. But then my journeys were important.
February 21 There’s a pub in the Maspalomas shopping centre that, before it becomes a tinitus-inducing disco at around eleven, is a jock’s paradise, with five TVs on the wall, each tuned to a different Champions’ League match. Surrounded by large Dutchmen, we watched PSV-Arsenal - with peripheral glances at Lille-Man U next door. Great game (ours) clean – only one yellow card - fast – thought it was on fast-forward in the first half – and noisy – cheers going up from different parts of the room at different times. Tonight will be even noisier: Liverpool-Barcelona - it's the only time I can support the Reds in public.
Notices in Maspalomas camp: Schwimmen Sie nicht nach dem Essen, oder wenn Sie Alkohol getrunken haben. Pity - I used to like the swimming.