Thomas Cook collapse is proof we need to fly abroad a little less

British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz)

British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday. (AP Photo/Victor Ruiz)

James Marston says if we are serious about the environment, like Greta Thunberg, then we don't really need package holidays anyway - and there's so much we are yet to see in Britain as it is

The rise of teenage activist Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protestors has sparked a ma

The rise of teenage activist Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protestors has sparked a major shift in public awareness of climate change. Pictured, the 16-year-old Swedish activist. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP - Credit: AP

It might sound selfish but I'm glad I'm not on a package holiday at the moment - aren't you? At least not one with Thomas Cook.

All that worry and trying to get home - can't be very pleasant.

What with the ghastly experience of the modern airport - hours in what have become shopping centres, the lack of natural light, and having to take off one's shoes - it's enough to put you off going abroad at all.

Quentin Crisp - does anyone remember him? - didn't like abroad much either. He said: "I don't hold with abroad and think that foreigners speak English when our backs are turned."

A renowned raconteur, Mr Crisp might not be totally accurate but he might have a kernel of a point.

Sitting around a pool or on a beach with crowds of others on a package holiday just isn't my cup of tea - though I do like the TV series Benidorm - and these days I don't think travelling is much fun at all. And, to be honest, it seems to me in this day and age of deep concern about climate change, and with the passionate efforts of young Greta Thunberg I can't help wondering if it might not be such a bad thing if flying off on a package holiday became as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.

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A controversial opinion of course, but if we are actually serious about doing our bit for the environment we say we want to preserve in order to hand on to our children, it might be better if we took ourselves and our children abroad, just a little bit less, in the first place - but as Simon and Garfunkel once said, "Man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest" - and when it comes to doing out bit for climate change I can't help thinking we are all for it until it actually gets in the way of what we want to do.

Nonetheless, I'm sure once everyone's been repatriated - and is it the poor old taxpayer that's footing the bill for this? I can't quite work out who's paying? - I don't suppose we'll have learnt our lesson.

We'll be thinking about next year's trip in due course and people will be taking their children out of school to avoid the inevitable price hikes. Which is a shame, not only climate-wise, but also because when I was a youngster people seemed less flippant about education and it seems to me these days plenty of people know little enough about Britain as it is.

This, of course, is probably a somewhat reactionary view and one which bears up to little scrutiny. Though I can't help finding it odd that people take their children out of school simply to go on a holiday - perhaps I'm missing something.

Nonetheless, this week I found myself in Beccles - a part of Suffolk, despite my years travelling around the eastern region, I know little about. As well as being, for a while I think, the childhood home of broadcaster David Frost, Beccles also lays claim to a Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Hodgkin who studied at the local school. Dorothy was a chemist - not my specialist subject - and reached the very top of her profession. But until I went to Beccles I had no idea of this woman and her links to the town. I also had no idea that Beccles, an attractive place, is a bustling town and well worth a look.

It seems to me there is still much to learn about ourselves and our own country and its people.

I had, I admit, made an assumption which was very different to the reality and as a result I was not only pleasantly surprised but a little annoyed at myself for thinking I knew more than I did.

I can't help wondering if this isn't a lesson we all learn again and again about all sorts of things - perhaps climate change among them.

What lessons do we never learn? Should package holidays be taken less? Do you think people know less about Britain than they used to? What do you think? Write to James at