Grumpy Group Organiser shares his take on the Dover travel chaos, artificial intelligence and a shambles at the theatre.

A row of coaches

GGO says that the travel chaos in Dover has been “a total shambles”.

A dog’s dinner at the port of Dover

It seems that no one can agree why there has been such travel chaos at the port of Dover recently. What is easy to agree on is that it’s been a total shambles and utterly unacceptable with queues of 14 hours or more and gridlocked traffic. You cannot put tourists and school groups through that type of ordeal.

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said that this type of fiasco will not become commonplace but someone with her track record isn’t going to reassure anyone. The MP for Fareham argued that it isn’t “fair” to say that the situation “has been an adverse effect of Brexit.”

She urged “everybody to be a bit patient while the ferry companies work their way through the backlog.” Patient? I think those affected went way past that particular threshold and needed a better explanation. Surely it was obvious that a high volume of coaches would be using the port at certain times, so why wasn’t there sufficient planning?

To continue a theme of everyone singing from different hymn sheets, a No. 10 spokesperson admitted that “new processes” brought in following Brexit would have contributed to the problems caused. Even Lord Frost, who was Boris’s chief Brexit negotiator, admitted on Twitter: “If we want to control movement into the UK… then we must expect the EU to control movement into the EU. We can’t have it both ways.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport called for “crisis talks” with the government, the port itself and the ferry operators to “resolve this mess once and for all.” Facilities at the Port of Dover were expanded with a temporary marquee installed over the Easter weekend to help process coach passengers which seemed to improve things. But we have an EU border at Dover and each individual passport has to be inspected and stamped after Brexit, so a permanent solution is needed. Let’s hope intelligent heads come together to achieve just that.

Karaoke halts The Bodyguard

It seems that a bunch of morons mistook a night at the theatre for a karaoke bar, ruining it for hundreds of people. The audience at the Palace Theatre in Manchester were looking forward to the touring production of The Bodyguard but some decided to try and out-sing the stars, ignoring signs to respect others in attendance and the cast themselves. Lessons in civility and style were sorely needed with police ejecting a number of people minutes from the end.

“Mini riots” and “fights” were said to have broken out. Is society going to the dogs? I remember last year sitting next to a group at the theatre who thought they were at a concert. I almost got barged out of my seat as they waved their arms around and wailed (you couldn’t call it singing) every word to every number. What did I do? Nothing. Anyone who takes a dozen mini bottles of plonk and containers from the Chinese take-away into a theatre is not to be messed with. Chow mein, anyone? I’ll stick to my Ben & Jerry’s thanks.

Chinese takeaway box

Would you take a Chinese take-away into the theatre with you?

Would you trust AI?

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been in the headlines recently, largely down to the launch of something called ChatGPT. I suggest you search for it online and try it out, it’s actually quite fun.


But I worry when I see a travel company like Expedia announce it’s now using it to ‘power’ a new trial in-app travel planning experience that allows users to start an open-ended conversation and get recommendations on places to go, where to stay, how to get around, and what to see and do, all based on a cosy ‘AI chat’ with ChatGPT. Are you going to trust AI like that? No, me neither. Give me a human with experience, empathy, judgement and, more than anything else, ‘genuine’ intelligence.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of the publisher.