If you rely on the UK media for your news you may be under the impression that the current volcanic dust problems are affecting (a) holidaymakers who can't go on their trip; and (b) the arrival of exotic fruits and the subsequent trauma of the English middle classes. (Honestly I'm not making that up).
However, as I have spent some time over the last few days in the company of people who have been genuinely affected by the wrath of Eyjafjallajoekull (when my 4 year old daughter writes to me on messenger I'm sure that's the word she usually types, which means she's been warning me of this event for some time, which is a bit freakish), I do know that there are some actual stories of hardships beyond the awfulness of not being able to buy pineapple at Waitrose. These are all people I've met in the last couple of days (mostly on my non-flight on Thursday), or who I know or am connected to in some way.
1. The British man and Romanian woman who were flying out to their own wedding in Bucharest (should have been today - Saturday) along with assorted relatives. I have this image of a church full of people in Bucharest standing around even now looking at their watches and muttering "I knew it wouldn't last" to their neighbours.
2. The Egyptian guy who was flying home to Cairo via Bucharest. He is now stuck in the UK with a soon to expire visa and no money whatsoever. With this promising to go on for some time there are increasing number of people in a similar situation. If you've nowhere to stay, no money, no way of getting home aside from by plane...what do you do?
3. The Cypriot businessman who lives in London and who has a factory in Romania. he was flying over to sign all the cheques to pay his workers. He needs to be there to do that, and no-one else can do it. So a large number of people who were not even flying anywhere have a massive problem.
4. Someone I met in Moscow a couple of weeks ago whose visa expires today, and who was due to fly home yesterday. I suspect Russian visa officials will not be terribly sympathetic.
5. Daughter of a friend who is stuck in Bangkok with no money, dodging riots on the streets.
So, what all these things remind me is that (a) my situation is not terrible in the grand scheme of things. I miss my family (and I'd like to think they miss me), and really really want to be home. But I have somewhere to stay, access to some money, and time to work out other options; and (b) anyone complaining they can't buy a fig wants shooting.
Podcast 132: Sending A Postcard To Keith Hackett
6 hours ago