Monday 20 January 2020

Red alert? Well maybe pale pink to my mind

Group chairman Sean Hogan speaking to the media following a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination group in Dublin. Photo: PA Wire
Group chairman Sean Hogan speaking to the media following a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination group in Dublin. Photo: PA Wire

John Masterson

Despite having travelled more than most people I am not a good traveller. I am packed days ahead and grumpy for about 48 hours. Once on the plane I have the gift of sleeping like a baby, a gift that has been absent the previous night or two. That is when things go well which is usually the case these days. Planes depart on time and arrive early. Luggage usually ends up where it is supposed to.

When things do go wrong I remain polite, but am fit to kill. I was tetchy after the big snow finally arrived in Kilkenny. Very late. We were colour alerted in some bonkers manner. I am all for getting sensible advice about the weather but I trust the apps on my phone far more than the hysteria from the National Emergency Coordination Group (NECP). There were a lot of restaurants closed on the Thursday in my part of the world when the weather was perfect. This is what happens when permanent and pensionable civil servants make decisions that will not cost them a penny. You can always over-manage risk when someone else is paying.

I got through it all, happy to be off to the sun on red alert Sunday. We drove the red alert M50 with cars passing us at 130km/h. Nobody in the NECP had noticed that conditions were perfect. All looked normal at the airport until we were told Air France had sent a smaller plane and 25 passengers were booted off until the next day. I was going to be as late in Havana as the Kilkenny snow. I politely inquired as to how the 25 were chosen (specifically 'why me?') but, as is the norm in these cases, nobody knows nothing.

We left Terminal 1 in our summer clothes and made our way to the hotel shuttle bus which is located somewhere near the outer Hebrides. A bus for the Carlton turned up but I pointed out (snarled) to my travelling companion that we were being put up in the Clayton. Ten minutes later that bus arrived and we were deposited at the hotel. There we met with more incompetence as the room had not been booked. "Are you sure it is this hotel?," the very courteous lady asked. I pulled out the card I had been given, about to go into high dudgeon. It clearly stated CARLTON. I made my apologies and left, as they say in the divorce courts. The nice lady called a taxi. I pointed out to her that travelling is stressful, cancelled plans are worse, that people are prone to make errors and that it should be illegal for hotels to have similar names within 10 miles of an airport. She indulged me.

We arrived at the overwhelmed hotel where, as I had suspected, nothing would happen until after midday when rooms were vacated and cleaned. There is only so much coffee a human being can consume without walking on the ceiling and I was nearly there to begin with. My companion put her nose in a book. I would have been more inclined to put mine in an oven at this stage. It was when I got a lecture on 'mindfulness' that things irretrievably broke down, as they also say in the divorce courts. Can I respectfully suggest that someone take the traffic lights away from the children in the NECP as they enjoy them too much? Maybe they could move out of Dublin. And put a few people from the private sector into the room.

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