We have a lot to cover today, so sit up and pay attention.
First, UK (and much of Europe's) airspace is closed until at least 1.00am tomorrow, Monday. The disruption this is causing to holiday-makers is enormous, given that today is the last day of the two-week Easter school holidays for most of Britain. But it is, of course, not only holiday-makers who are affected. Businessmen are unable to travel and will need to rearrange meetings, a couple who have spent three years planning their wedding in Antigua have been unable to travel, and tons of food waiting to be flown into Britain from Kenya and Egypt (for example) have had to be destroyed. This will mean that farmers in those countries who rely on exporting crops to Europe will suffer, and as a knock-on effect, British shoppers will suffer as there will be shortages of some fresh foods. This will no doubt mean that there will be increased demand for other foods. Am I just being cynical when I suggest that this could lead to price rises in our shops? Then, of course, the airlines themselves are losing millions of pounds a day and it is predicted that these losses will mean some airlines could go bust.
The Icelandic volcano with an unpronounceable name may be responsible for locking down European airspace, but it cannot be blamed for locking down Brighton's roads today. The inaugural Brighton marathon is being run and many of the city's major roads are closed for at least part of the day, including the main east-west road through the city - the sea front. There have been 12,000 people who have paid to enter the marathon, although the organisers expect some 25% of them not to turn up. This will still leave 9,000 runners, and another 30,000 spectators are expected to come into Brighton. Hotels report that they have been fully booked for weeks, and restaurants have heavier than normal bookings for this evening. The weather today is great - it feels warmer than any other day this year and the sky is blue (although there is a distinct haziness towards the horizon, for which we can thank volcanic action). Most people I have spoken to seem to be happy to put up with the disruption the marathon is causing and welcome the fact that it will bring business to the city and that thousands of pounds will be raised for charities, many of them local ones such as Leo House, Martlets Hospice and the Sussex MS Treatment Centre.
It is some time (I think) since I have mentioned books I have read and there are a good few that I should be covering. I think perhaps I will leave the bulk of them for another day and I will mention only the latest Peter James book in the Roy Grace series, Dead Tomorrow. Although, like the rest of the series, largely based in and around Brighton, quite a lot of the action takes place in Bucharest. When bodies found in the sea off Brighton are discovered to be missing organs, it is not difficult to put two and two together and come up with the answer that people trafficking for body parts is the central theme. As with previous books in the series, there are two or three sub-plots that run through each book. It was interesting to see that several of the characters in the book have the same names as some of the people thanked by the author for their help - and what's more, the real-life people appear to have the same roles as the characters in the book. I mentioned in my previous note that each book contained a geographical error. This one is no exception, but I have come to the conclusion that this is a leg-pull by Mr James and that these are deliberate errors on his part. Like his other works, this is a fast-moving tale which works up to a dramatic conclusion. And not everybody lives happily ever after.