Passengers queue for flights at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday amid 'chaos' at airports across the UK
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Excuse me if today’s column seems a little skew-whiff. I didn’t get to bed until gone 4am, and had to be up again at 7am.

But I’m one of the lucky ones: at least I crawled between the sheets at home before passing out like a starfish for three hours. Many had to make do with a grubby floor.

No, I haven’t been whooping it up in a nightclub or reliving my misspent youth. I was doing what thousands of other Britons like to do every now and then: have a few days abroad, in this case Italy.

But it seems getting on a plane that not only takes off vaguely on time but also reaches its destination is about as likely as J.K. Rowling being invited to speak at Stonewall’s AGM.

Actually, I have no right to complain. Compared with what some poor souls have had to endure, my experience was positively VIP. Sure, my easyJet flight was delayed repeatedly at Pisa airport where, for reasons best known to the Italians, all the food outlets shut at 7.30pm, leaving delayed families nothing to eat or drink but Duty-Free Smarties, Camel Lights and warm limoncello.

Fun if you’re heading to Ibiza on a three-day bender — but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Passengers queue for flights at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday amid 'chaos' at airports across the UK

Passengers queue for flights at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday amid ‘chaos’ at airports across the UK

Travellers queue to check in for their flights at Gatwick Airport, with holidaymakers facing continuing disruptions due to cancellations and lack of airport staff

Travellers queue to check in for their flights at Gatwick Airport, with holidaymakers facing continuing disruptions due to cancellations and lack of airport staff

That was a picnic, however, compared with the scenes in Britain, which make tin-pot operations such as Pisa look positively state-of-the-art.

The shambles unfolding in airports up and down the country is not just shocking, it’s shameful.

Families stranded, children in tears, people exhausted and stressed out. Holidays they’ve been looking forward to — saving for, dreaming about — up in smoke.

Police drafted in to tell passengers their holidays are cancelled, people too anxious to go to the loo in case they lose their spot in line. And everywhere, crushing disappointment.

That little bit of joy in their lives — the one thing that’s kept them going — ruined, and all because a greedy bunch of airline bosses couldn’t do their jobs properly.

I mean, what did they think was going to happen? It’s the first proper school holiday since Covid travel restrictions were lifted; it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; we’ve been locked up for two years. Surely it doesn’t take a genius to predict a surge in passenger numbers.

As for the airlines that have recruited new staff, they must have known that, in the aftermath of Covid, obtaining security clearance for them would take months rather than weeks.

None of this is the fault of airline staff. They’re just the foot-soldiers, as stressed and exhausted as the rest of us. Since it’s their colleagues’ jobs that were cut, it’s they who are having to take up the slack.

Waiting in line in front of an empty check-in desk at Pisa on Monday evening, I asked a young woman in a high-vis jacket if she worked for easyJet. ‘Unfortunately I do,’ she replied, in terms too colourful for a family newspaper.

The captain and crew on our flight couldn’t have been more professional. But it’s out of their hands.

Passengers waiting in queues at Manchester Airport on Tuesday, another to have been impacted by huge delays

Passengers waiting in queues at Manchester Airport on Tuesday, another to have been impacted by huge delays

Instead of recruiting the number of people required to deal with the inevitable post-Covid surge in demand for air travel, it seems the airlines and airport bosses decided to chance things and do it on the cheap: an approach that’s not only venal, but also very stupid.

It’s not as though they’re giving these flights away, either. Prices are through the roof, plus all the extras. I paid £170 to check in three bags on our way home (my daughter had embarked on a forensic exploration of the second-hand clothes stores near Florence). Three teas on the flight cost ¤9. To be honest, by that stage I would cheerfully have parted with a kidney in exchange for a cuppa, but you know what I mean.

When people hand over their hard-earned cash, they should get what they’ve paid for and not be treated as though they are the ones who have done something wrong.

To want a few days away from the stresses and strains of everyday life is not a criminal offence. But taking people’s money — and then treating them with such cavalier disregard and lack of respect — should be.

A summer of love that’ll only end in heartache…

Regular readers will know that I don’t have much time for Love Island, which returns to our screens next week.

It doesn’t matter how ITV spins it, ‘love’ has very little to do with it.

This year, they’re making a big song and dance about using only pre-loved fashion, partnering with eBay to appeal to more socially conscious, younger viewers.

Fair enough, but it’s going to take more than a couple of recycled bikinis to undo years of fast-fashion endorsements.

However, the main issue for me is the terrible insecurities it creates, not only for viewers comparing themselves with the surgically enhanced ideal of beauty presented on screen, but also for the contestants themselves, two of whom — Sophie Gradon, 32, and Mike Thalassitis, 26 — took their own lives, as did the show’s presenter, Caroline Flack.

Gemma Owen, a contestant on the new series, poses ahead of Love Island 2022, but 'love' has very little to do with it

Gemma Owen, a contestant on the new series, poses ahead of Love Island 2022, but ‘love’ has very little to do with it

No wonder Michael Owen is seriously worried about his daughter, Gemma (left), taking part.

She’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but she is only 19 and however grown-up she may feel, that is an incredibly young age to be exposed to the scrutiny this show brings, not to mention the inevitable criticism on social media.

‘I’m wanting to have a really fun summer,’ she says. ‘I was seeing someone and then that didn’t work out so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ‘

Because it’s a toxic, cruel show, Gemma, and the only thing that’s guaranteed is heartache.

Posh? Only on Radio H-P

Toff bible Tatler has issued a list of attributes that signify poshness, including, in no particular order: owning a rare breed of dog; using a fountain pen; keeping a wine cellar; and cultivating rare houseplants.

I have a very common bichon, write with a Biro, have only ever managed not to kill a peace lily — and wine never lasts long enough in my house to make it to the cellar (assuming I had one, which I don’t). 

In truth, though, none of the above matters as long as you’re on Radio H-P. If you know, you know.

More and more parents, we are told, are relying on smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa to answer their children’s maths questions, because school homework has become so difficult. 

Even if that is the case, why are parents doing their children’s homework in the first place?

It’s their homework, so they should do it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Sources close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claim they plan to ‘keep it simple’ during their imminent visit to avoid over-shadowing the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. 

I’ll believe that when I see it. Those two have more talent for drama than the cast of The Crown.

Good on the BBC for pulling up Tom Sutcliffe, presenter of Radio 4’s Front Row, for describing J.K. Rowling’s views on trans women as ‘very unpopular’.

The BBC’s complaints unit said there is no evidence that Rowling’s view is in a minority. 

Indeed, while in certain circles — not least the upper echelons of the Labour Party (see Stella Creasy) — the idea that a woman can have a penis seems to have taken hold, for the majority of people it remains a puzzling, not to say in some circumstances troubling, concept.

In Rome last week, the city erupted after AS Roma won some football game or other (don’t ask me).

I was walking home from dinner when a car screeched to a halt outside a bar, and the passengers spilled out into the street, hugging and kissing. One of them climbed on the roof of the vehicle and did a little jig, soon to be joined by a friend.

It was all very silly and loud — but there was something infectious about such a spontaneous, irrepressible expression of joy. I spent the rest of the night cursing them, of course, as fans drove around honking their horns and singing songs (my favourite was a Deliveroo rider belting out the Italian national anthem in Pavarotti- esque tones).

But it did make me think: that’s what a proper celebration looks like — not the mealy-mouthed, box-ticking, health-and-safety displays of local authorities in respect of the Queen’s Jubilee.

The key to having fun is spontaneity. No one can do that if they have to obtain consent in triplicate first.

Virtual joys of parenting

According to AI expert Catriona Campbell, concerns about overpopulation will prompt society to embrace digital babies, leading to a ‘Tamagotchi generation’ (named after those annoying toys, left, that were all the rage in the 1990s). ‘On the basis consumer demand is there, AI children will become widely available for a relatively small monthly fee,’ she says.

You say that, Ms Campbell. It starts off with a small monthly fee, then before you know it, they’re demanding virtual trainers, virtual trips to buy bubble tea, virtual ballet lessons . . . 

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