Why not introduce a little democracy to an overbooked flight?

John Crace
A video screengrab shows David Dao being dragged off a United Airlines flight. Photograph: Reuters

Monday

It took a while for everyone to work out whether the video of David Dao being dragged off a United Airlines flight was real. In an age where almost no incident that takes place in a public space goes unrecorded, it seemed inconceivable that it could be airline policy to forcibly remove fare-paying passengers because they have sold too many tickets for a flight. For United Airlines to then double down by claiming Dao had been “disruptive and belligerent” made the whole thing even more surreal. We live and learn. If no one is willing to give up their seat on a flight no matter how much money is on offer, the most democratic resolution would be to give every passenger on the aircraft a vote on the person they would least like to travel with. The sweaty bloke who takes hours in the toilet and insists on putting his seat back for the entire flight would be a goner for sure. Come to think of it, passengers should be allowed to vote on this even if the flight isn’t full.

Tuesday

As a hypochondriac who is surprised to have reached the age of 60, I have spent rather too much time over the years thinking about what I would choose to do if I only had a short while left to live. A nurse in Stockholm recently took a terminally ill patient up to the hospital roof so that he could enjoy a last cigarette and glass of wine. It was a grand gesture of both acceptance and defiance, but it still doesn’t really do it for me; having spent so much effort over the last 30 years trying not to drink and smoke, it would seem a bit pointless to go and spoil everything right at the end. A close friend who is in the last stages of cancer went through a phase of wanting people to read him Paradise Lost and extracts from HG Wells’s A Short History of the World. I would like to go that way, too, but I fear I am not that highbrow. I rather suspect that my last days will be spent worrying about far more trivial stuff. Like whether I am going to live long enough to see the last in the current series of Line of Duty. Hopefully that will be series 30.

Wednesday

The discovery of letters written by Sylvia Plath to her shrink alleging that her relationship with Ted Hughes had been abusive is a reminder that all history is only ever in draft form. There is always more to be learned, though I am constantly surprised by how much documentary evidence survives. I’ve never thought to hang on to old letters and diaries and have long since thrown them away to save my children the effort of doing so at some point in the future. And to give me some room to move in my study. I can only assume that important people know they are going to be of historical interest when they are alive and preserve their archives accordingly. But I’m glad they do. I may not be a hoarder but I am a collector and I was thrilled to find notes on University of Sussex headed paper inside my copy of The Bell Jar that had been left by the reviewer. The Bell Jar was first published by Heinemann under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas, so the reviewer was unaware of Plath’s authorship and a cover letter, returning the book, said simply: “Returned from Sybil with many thanks. I think she found the novel better in its second half, but she found it consistently perceptive.” Faint praise.

Thursday

After a slow and rather low-key opening episode of its third series, The Trip to Spain has turned into a total delight. Though the backstory has darkened a little, the basic format remains the same: Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan playing versions of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan – I wrote Brydon’s name first because it would piss The Trip’s Steve Coogan off – as they drive around a country eating and competing with one another over everything. Coogan’s impression of Mick Jagger complete with double clap to the side is a thing of beauty. It’s not just their comic genius that is breathtaking. Both men also seem to be able to eat their way through an entire menu without either belching or coming up against a course they don’t like. I wish I could say the same. I’m both fussy and unsophisticated, a condition I put down to having been brought up by a mother whose cooking never outgrew postwar austerity. Every time I go to a posh restaurant, I have to do a process of elimination as I scour the menu for something I actually like. If I spot a steak and chips then I know I’m in business.

Friday

There’s long been a noble tradition within the Church of England that the more doubts one has about one’s faith then the stronger it actually is. But some Christians seem to be taking this to extremes. A new survey commissioned by the BBC has revealed that 25% of Christians in Britain don’t believe in the resurrection. My grasp on Christian theology isn’t all it might be as I learned most of what I know when my Dad, a Church of England vicar, paid me 5p per week – it seemed like a fair deal at the time – to sing in his village church choir, but from what I can remember, the resurrection is the central pillar of the religion. Without it, Jesus could have been just another prophet. So to not believe in the resurrection and to still believe in Christianity seems a feat of extreme intellectual dexterity. But maybe that’s why they call it the Easter miracle.

Digested week, digested: The Donald gets trigger happy

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