Monday, 27 November 2017






A REGION OF RELAXING REPOSE



Everyone, at some time in their life, has wanted to find that one place in the world where they are blissfully happy. A place to escape to, a place to be alone, to think, to chill out. In the case of an empath, a place where you can be peaceful. A place where you are virtually alone, so you can get away from the bombardment of emotions from the thousands of people in towns and cities. An Eden, if you like. A place where you can, to quote Chakotay in Star Trek Voyager, "Be the most content and peaceful you have ever been".

For some people it takes a lifetime to find that kind of place and sadly, some people never do. I've been to places that were pretty damn close. Sherwood Forest has always been a special place to me because I've always loved the story of Robin Hood. I love the place so much I got married there. But my Eden, not quite. The other place which I really love is Dawlish in South Devon (see my blog: The Drenched Dawlish debate). The scenery is just beautiful and as a train lover, seeing a train go right past the beach looking out onto the beauty of the bay is incredible. But much as I love the place, especially as Devon holds wonderful childhood memories for me, it's still too crowded and noisy because it's full of tourists.

Was I ever going to find that place of peace? That one little haven where I could be the most content and peaceful I have ever been? I began to think not. Then one day- amazingly - I did.

I was watching a 2012 Olympic cycle race one day and the scenery was absolutely incredible, and I wanted to know where it was. I soon found out it was the borough of Richmond-on Thames. I decided that next time I was in London, I was going to make a point of visiting. On marathon week 2013 I did. It was the best decision I ever made because it was here that I found that place I had been looking for!

As soon I walked through Richmond Gate, that was it. I knew instantly that this was my safe haven; the place I could run to if I needed empathic sanctuary. Even when it is busy on a weekend, you will find it very hard to see many people. the only people you will see are the odd runner (or if you chose to do a parkrun as I do, several!), a few cyclists and a few native deer. Other than that the only sound you will hear are the sounds that are calming to an empath: birds singing, deer antlers cracking in a rut, the wind, the patter of rain and trickle of water on the ponds and along the river, the call of an owl at night (if, as I was - only once, you're lucky enough to be there at night). The most important thing is it's quiet. Yes, there are cars, but Richmond Park is so vast it's easy to get away from them.

When I am in Richmond Park, I am able to completely relax, shut out all the hundreds of emotions that I feel when I'm in central London, one of the most crowded places in the world. I can close my eyes, listen to the sounds of nature and be in virtual and ecstatic silence. It feels amazing. This also works in reverse.  A while back I lost my empathy, so I needed to chill, to relax, in the hope of it returning. So far, no luck. I can do that there too. I wish I could stay in Richmond forever.

Now here, to my utter sadness, is where we hit a snag. I live in Leeds. It's a city and the green areas are practically non-existant and the ones that are, stand too near to roads, housing estates or public transport. I can't relax here no matter how hard I try. I like the place well enough, but it is not good for my empathic sanity, quite the opposite. I am going out of my mind here. The little town I live in is quite pretty, but again, too loud, too noisy and there is nowhere to hide. Temple Newsam is the closest I have got. Even that isn't enough as there is a motorway running right alongside it. I've tried for twelve years to settle here in Leeds and can't cope anymore. If I don't leave soon I shall go emotionally nuts.

The other snag: Richmond is a long way from Leeds and on-the-day train fares are ridiculously expensive. So, even though Richmond is my haven, I can only get to it very rarely, say a couple (maybe three!) times a year. I hate being away from this amazing place and I wish I could be there more often. I make the most of it when I am (not enough). I will never be able to actually live there, which is sad, even if I got a good job, it's way too expensive.

So, here I am: no empathy, in a place that doesn't suit me, frustrated at being kept away from the one place I wish I could be. Not good.

Anyway, I'm getting depressed now.

The point is, Richmond, and actually the whole of the borough is incredibly peaceful, relaxed and beautiful. I recommend a visit. I've found my place of peace. I hope one day you all find yours too.








Friday, 24 November 2017




The DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA




I really love social media, well most of it. There are exceptions like Facebook, which I loathe with a passion, but overall I think it's a pretty cool thing. If it hadn't been for social media, I would never have made amazing friends, worked for an amazing charity and met some throughly nice people.

I love Twitter, especially as it gives me a chance to express my opinions, something I'm not ordinarily allowed to do much for fear of being shut down. It also gives me the chance to let off steam at people who deserve to be called out on their behaviour, whereas you would feel bad doing that to their face. For example, could you imagine telling Donald Trump to his face, that he is a disgrace to the United States. Scary, eh? Especially, for a journalist as he seems to have a deep hatred for the media. But on Twitter no problem at all. I have called him out many times for his behaviour and it was completely deserved.

 However, social media (I'll focus on Twitter because that is my main social media site) is not always a good thing. It can be used to promote very, very bad things. But there is one other thing it does that drives me completely insane.

Every time an incident of some sort happens nowadays (most recently a fight that broke out in a tube station), people instantly jump up and start spreading nonsense on Twitter. Saying things like, "I bet it was terrorism", or "I bet it was the Muslims again", or worse we have the "This is a false flag/crisis actor" nutters. And then, as if that wasn't enough, we have bigots and gobshites like Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins who can't wait to shove their racist tupenny worth in. None of this is constructive, nor is it sensible and it can, in fact be downright dangerous. 

In World War II there was a saying, "Careless talk cost lives". It is as true today as it was then, if not more so. In this age of uncertainty and global terrorism, we have to be very careful what we say and how we say it. We should not be blabbing stuff all over social media that is either false, racist or both. This applies to journalists and non-journalists alike. 

As Bill Neely once said, "False words, inaccurate words....can be very dangerous!" and "Words can kill. If you're standing on a street corner and you say, 'This ethnic group was responsible for this' and it's broadcast, it could be that, a few hours later, you are responsible for someone's death! Because someone has heard you..or these days read your tweet and then taken action". 

This is so important and to me is just plain common sense. Do not say things you can't verify, without admitting you can't, don't spread rumours that this group/person was responsible, or this was such-and-such a device when you have no idea. And as to the false flag nutters, well my feelings about them are very clear there: STAY QUIET!  

Wait for confirmation from official sources, namely the police before saying anything.

Remember, careless talk costs lives. Or as they say in lovely Northern Ireland: 

"Whatever you say, SAY NOTHING".


Even more true today than it was in WWII







Saturday, 14 October 2017




LEARNING TO LIVE WITHOUT EMPATHY


As an aspiring journalist, I usually concentrate on news when writing a blog. However this time I'm not. I want to explain a bit about myself and why I am in trouble. 

Most people see the world exactly as it is. They take someone at face value, see the surface and have no idea about who that person is other then via their behaviour and body language. They can watch a news story and face it with practical eyes. If a major news story happens where a lot of people are hurt, they can be saddened and shocked, as would anyone, but then they can carry on with their own lives without thinking too much about it. It's just another news story. 

They can spend time in a crowd and not be bothered by it. They can see only what their eyes tell them. And they can experience stuff when it happens and not know what may happen later. 

This is not me. I am described accurately as an empath. I see the world differently from other people. I am also an HSP, but that is something else and is related, but is a discussion for another time. Right now, we are talking about being an empath. Here are a few examples to help you understand what I am. It's not something I can turn on or off. It's a part of me just as your eyesight is a part of you.

 If I meet someone I know instantly if they are trustworthy or not. Because I will be able to pick up on the energy the are projecting my way. If I feel any bad vibes from them, I walk away. When I went to college as soon as I met my tutor, she projected such bad energy that she gave me the creeps. She didn't even have to open her mouth. I knew she was trouble. I should have walked away right there and then, but I needed to get my education. As it turned out I was right and thanks to her, my education collapsed. 

At the other end of the spectrum: Five years ago I met my friend Bill Neely for the first time. He was exactly the opposite to the tutor. He was open and generous with his emotions and was hiding nothing except his own private thoughts. I felt nothing but good vibes from him. I knew the instant I met him that I could trust him 100%. I know I still can. We have been friends ever since and I consider it a privilege.



Then there are people who are half and half. They seem nice, but something is hidden underneath. I don't mean secrets exactly, as everyone is entitled to their privacy, but more that there is a side to them that they don't want you to see, even though they are acting friendly enough. These are the people to be most wary of: they are not necessarily bad people, but as they are hiding something, they are not to be instantly trusted. These are the ones that you learn to trust over time. Of course, they could be an empath and they are putting up a wall for their own protection. This is vital to our survial, in a world full of emotion otherwise we would absorb them like a sponge and they would overwhelm us to the point of insanity.



Take news events. One of the strongest memories I have of my empathy was on 9/11. At about 1pm (8am New York) I set off to go to my afternoon shift in the Cinema. Something was bothering me. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew something was out of place. The atmosphere felt just weird. I tried to shut it out but it was too much.  I arrived at work at 2.10 (9.10 am in New York) just after plane 175 hit the south tower of the World Trade Centre. I hadn't seen this, but I knew something was wrong and it was a very serious. As I walked in, my friend said,"Come upstairs and see this!". I know what he was going to show me before I even got there. A disaster, an unimaginable one. As soon as I saw the images on TV, everything clicked into place. And you can imagine how I felt for the  rest of the day as a person who is an emotional magnet.

Everytime there is an attack anywhere I feel the pain and the confusion of what is happening. And I can't shut it out. Sometimes it can be awful. but I just have to erect the wall and hope it holds up. That why empaths and HSP's tend to not watch the news because they can't handle the upsetting images or cope with the tsunami of emotions that go with it, both their own and from the people involved. The other one that affected my senses quite badly was the Boston Marathon. 

Let's move onto some fun stuff, when being an empath can be fun. 

Trying to plan a surprise for an empath is virtually impossible, because they know you are up to something. Don has virtually given up trying to surprise me with presents, because I know I'm getting it. Now he just asks me what I want instead.

There are times being in a crowd is wonderful. For instance, I love going to the London Marathon, because everyone is happy. All I get are amazing lovely vibes from feeling the happiness of people all sharing the same joy of helping charity and running with others. The only pain I feel is - as the last time - if my friends are struggling because of injury. Other than that though, it's just happiness and joy. The London Marathon in 2013 was even more emotionally charged as we were supporting the people of Boston. It felt incredible.

So why am I in trouble? Well, basically and simply, my empathy - for whatever reason - has suddenly switched off. A friend who lives near me suggested that my emotions have become so overwhelmed, that they have shut off as a form of self protection, a more permanent wall, shall we say. Which makes absolutely perfect sense.

I am now seeing the world the same way as everyone else does. Unfortunately, I don't know how to work like that because I've never had to.

I can't live this way. I am trying to, but it is very hard not having the survial instinct that has served me so well in the past. To use an example of my friend Bill: you have to work out whether it is safe to go another hundred yards up a road. I wouldn't have to try and work it out. I would know. Except at the moment I'm as clueless as everyone else.

Bill once described it as 'emotional intelligence', which is a delightful and accurate description. But now I don't have it, does that mean I'm suddenly emotionally stupid? Well, no....and yes. No, because I still feel emotion. However, there is only mine rather than everyone else's. But yes, because my empathy is a part of me, so it's more accurate to say I'm emotionally blind. I can't sense danger the way I used to or anyone being in a room before I even walk in and the most dangerous thing is I can't tell a person's true motives.

Trying to live without my emotional intelligence is terrifying, confusing and worse of all intolerable. I am hoping it is just temporary. Because if this is going to be for good, it will be horrible and take a lot of adjustment.

I can only hope and pray that it returns ASAP. Until then, I will have to live the best I can. Wish me luck, eh?

  








Thursday, 3 August 2017




THE JOURNALISM JOB HUNT



Since 2013, I have been (with little success) trying to get a paid job in journalism. Regular readers and tweeters will know the reason for this, the inspiration of Bill Neely and Kate Adie.

 I decided that having a better education, specifically related to journalism would be a good idea. So I started planning for this, which is when I had my first of many setbacks. Apparently, I had no recent exam results, so I needed an access degree first. This was only told to me after I had visited a load of Universities, instead of being told of this upfront when I applied for the very first one. 

No problem I thought. Persistence is the key and is also one of the main talents of being a journalist. Just keep on going. So I applied for the access course and ended up in Plymouth. One of the prettiest places I have ever been. Unfortunately I came back up North as a complete failure after circumstances that were not of my making forced me to leave. Again I kept going. 

As soon as I got back up North, not to be deterred, I applied for every broadcast journalist apprenticeship/internship I could find. I didn't get accepted for one of them. 

I remembered that there were journalists (Jon Snow, Martin Bell and Bill Neely to name a few) who didn't have degree in journalism, or in Jon Snow's case, a degree in anything. At all. So, I didn't worry about the degree, but I had to do something. 

Alastair Stewart, whom I greatly admire, once said, "If you really want to be a journalist, prove it to me!" Well, if  I was given a chance to prove it I would do. I have the passion and the persistence, but I need someone to give me a break too. 

I also recall someone (can't remember who) saying, "If you have contacts use them". I discounted that immediately. To use someone you know in the business, especially if you are friends is just wrong. How are they ever to trust you if you make them believe you are just their friend to get a job? They can't. I would never treat my friend this way and he knows it. I asked him once (possibly twice) and he refused for his own perfectly good reasons. As far as I was concerned that was the end of it. I don't expect it. I value his friendship more than I value having a job.  

So, next step, apply for as many local journalism organisations I could. Again, nothing.  

And to add to this already bizarre and sometimes irritating situation, I met a young man yesterday on a shopping trip who had a journalism degree and still could not get a paid job, so he is spending his summer chugging and is switching professions in September to teacher training instead, as he is too frustrated to go down the journalism route any longer. One of the most interesting things he said was that while doing the degree he learned absolutely nothing and probably would have been in the same boat whether had taken a degree or not. 

So, do you need any education to be in journalism. Well, it's hard to say. It would appear the answer is no, but it looks like experience is a thing. But as with all jobs, it's the catch 22 of getting the job to get experience, but needing experience to get the job. I am struggling to get anywhere, and as a last resort I am now falling back on education. I don't know if this will come about or whether it will  work out if it does.

There is one thing I can say though. No matter how many times I get rejected or things fall apart I have lived by one of the most basic rules of journalism: I've kept trying, kept sticking to it and kept pushing on. And I will keep doing it.

Maybe one day, I may get the break I've been looking for! I keep going and keep trying. Because:




Wednesday, 28 June 2017





THE POSSIBLE END OF AN AL JAZE-ERA


Ah, Al Jazeera. I honestly never believed when I first started watching this amazing TV channel, that I would spend most of the next five years defending it, rather than just watching it. I don't regret doing it. It's just not what I thought would happen. It started with the jailing of the Al Jazeera four: Abdullah el-shami from Al Jazeera Arabic and the three people from Al Jazeera English: Peter Greste, Baher Mohammed and Mohammed Fahmy. Then there were their collegues who got charged in absentia, including Sue Turton. Now, I'm standing up for them again, after unreasonable demands from the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Egypt to have them shut down.

Do I want to see Al Jazeera shut down? Well, yes..........and definitely NO.

We'll start with yes.

The spat between Egypt and Qatar is no secret. Unfortunately Al Jazeera were willing to endanger their journalists to put the point across. When the AJ Staff were in Egypt, the then bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, asked Al Jazeera time and time again if they  were legally working in Egypt. Did they have the right press passes, etc. He was told to butt out, under the pretence of, "It's all under control, Fahmy. You just do your job as Bureau Chief, and let us worry about the rest of it". Except it wasn't all under control. The company knew damn well that they were there illegally and the AJ staff got well and truly dropped in it.

In fact, Qatar were probably thrilled when the AJ four got jailed because it gave them more ammunition to criticise Egypt. The longer they were in jail, the more publicity Al Jazeera got. And when the company began the 'zipped lips' campaign, everyone began to hear of Al Jazeera, which is exactly what Qatar were after. The unfortunate thing was, millions of people were sucked in by this, assuming that they were fighting for press freedom. Yes, we were, but underneath, it was all posturing to help Qatar stab a finger at Egypt, and by following our conscience and shouting for free speech, we became actors in this shameful piece of political theatre. That's not to say I didn't believe in what I was standing for - the release of the journalists and press freedom. Of course I did. I still do, otherwise I would not even be writing this. I support those journalists even more now, knowing as I do that they were basically used as pawns.

Any company who manipulates the good conscience of people in such a major way or is so cavalier about the safety of their reporters is a disgrace to journalism and quite honestly should be shut down. But this would again be punishing the fine journalists who work there because of two opposing governments acting like five year olds in a playground.

Which leads me on to the reason why Al Jazeera should carry on broadcasting and should not be shut down under any circumstances.

Many people in the Middle East have no voice. If they speak out they are silenced, or - as the AJ Staff have discovered - jailed, and sometimes even tortured and killed for saying what they believe. Al Jazeera gives a voice to the voiceless, speaks truth to power where no-one else can and their coverage is  second to none. They have some of the most experienced and impressive journalists in the world (take a bow Kamahl Santamaria!). When the Arab Spring was taking place across the Middle East, they covered it excellently and were the voice to many of the protesters and many of the other people in the region affected by it. Al Jazeera does exactly what it is supposed to do: Shines a light and gives people a voice. It's also about speaking truth to power, which via programmes like Inside Story, it does incredibly well.

Their programmes are of the highest quality and the highest professionalism. Their history documentaries are amazing. For instance, I never knew anything about the Sykes/Picot agreement until I saw the history programme Al Jazeera made about it.

To shut down Al Jazeera English would not only be a big mistake but would also be very sad. In Egypt, the station is already banned, Al Jazeera America has also gone. Let's not see the same fate happen to the brilliant Al Jazeera English. Let's stand for up for these guys and show Saudi Arabia how amazing our collective voices really can be. I want to shout one last thing: I STAND WITH AL JAZEERA!!







"Our job as journalists is to speak truth to power, shine a light in the dark places, be a witness to history and sometimes speak up for those who have no voice" ~ Bill Neely

Thursday, 15 June 2017





MAY MAY OR MAY MAY NOT



Oh dear, oh, dear! Theresa May, what has she done? Well, put simply, she cocked up!

In a recent piece, my hero Bill Neely described this monumental disaster-fest as, "From hero to zero". This to be honest, is stretching the truth just a tad. She was never a hero to me or I suspect to anyone else who has suffered under her policies.

This all started in June last year, when the country decided, by a perfectly democratic vote, to leave the European Union. Most people (except possibly Nigel Farage) thought it was an atrocious idea. To clarify this, the result was 52 - 48. Incredibly close. Which proved that there were many sensible people who thought Brexit was the dumbest idea imaginable! As the journalists stood on their designated spot outside Parliament, a protest was taking place on the road running alongside it. Two days later, the journo's spot became swamped with protesters.

I am not going to lay Brexit at the feet of Theresa May, as David Cameron was in charge at the time. It was what happened afterwards. On the morning after the vote, he stood down claiming, "I do not think it would be right for me to be the Captain that steers our country to it's next destination".

We were left with several contenders to replace him. Boris Johnson had led the Brexit campaign, but when it came to leading the country afterwards, he lost support and had to back out. Eventually, after several more people backed out, the country was left with two choices. Two female bigots: Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. Andrea Leadsom then also backed out. So Theresa May became PM of the UK, although, not exactly a hero. She said there wouldn't be an election until 2020, no chance of a second EU referendum and above all a strong and stable leadership.

Unfortunately, 'strong and stable' to her meant undermining the welfare system and crippling the emergency services by removing their funding, and talking about a repeal of the ban on fox hunting. Oh and then there's the 'dementia tax'......! She promised to do something about immigration. And then she promised to do something about terrorism saying, "Enough is enough", while simultaneously doing deals with Saudi Arabia. And, of course she sucked up to Donald Trump. After all this, she still believed she had the popular vote, which she did....to a point. So she decided to get devious. It was to be her undoing.

For a reason no one could understand, other than perhaps her delusion that she still had support, she then called a general election out of the blue. We call this a 'snap' election. Unfortunately, her campaign was absolutely terrible! She refused to do any interviews or take part in any debates. Not exactly the actions of a responsible leader. And let's not forget that she also refused to visit the families affected by the Grenfell disaster, even though the Queen did.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn finally convinced people he was worthy of the political Premiership. His campaign was amazing and did exactly what it was supposed to do - convince people.

It was clear pretty early on as the votes came in that David Davis, who persuaded Theresa May to call a snap election in the first place, had basically shot his colleague not just in the foot, but in the head.

The election results were close, not to mention an absolute disaster. Theresa May won, except technically she didn't, and Jeremy Corbyn lost, except he didn't.  Let me explain.

Theresa May did win, in the fact that she got the most votes. However, she didn't win because she didn't get the majority vote of 326 seats. Jeremy Corbyn didn't win, however, he did because he got a high score as people showed their disillusionment of May's government. Labour scored an unprecedented 262 seats.

However, as May had not won a majority, this meant a hung parliament. It resulted in her having to go into a coalition with another party. Unfortunately, she picked the DUP, a group of Northern Irish unionists.

There were several reasons why this was a bad idea. First there was the anti-abortion stance. Then there was the fact that they are in favour of bringing back the death penalty. Which century are they living in!? They are climate change deniers and believe creationism should be taught in schools. They also are anti-anything to do with LGBT+ rights, including same sex marriage. For goodness sake, the Republic of Ireland - a staunchly Catholic country have realised that gay marriage is okay! The DUP are literally living in the dark ages. They say they are for a 'soft' Brexit meaning they don't want a hard border with the Republic. However, as Theresa does want one they may get one whether they like it or not.

Which leads on to the discussion I wish we could avoid. The whole Northern Ireland thing. People who say this won't affect the peace agreement are a little na├»ve because it very well could. And this would be very, very sad. I have an Irish background, so when the Good Friday Agreement was signed I was so happy. I thought that my countries were getting their act together and learning to move on. Amazing.

And now here we are again possibly. Power sharing has already collapsed and here is Theresa May doing a deal with the DUP which, if nothing else is going to make Republicans like Sinn Fein very unhappy, as the UK are supposed to be impartial. How the hell is climbing into bed with the DUP impartial? Clearly it isn't. We have had nearly 20 years of relative peace, and what happens? Theresa May comes along and to all intents and purposes rips the Good Friday Agreement to shreds!

Nice going, PM. You have potentially given us a situation that could re-ignite the Troubles. So, I apologise now to all my fellow Northern Irish men and women for our leader being a complete idiot. We already have radical Islamic terrorism and now we will possibly have Irish terrorism too? Thanks for nothing, Theresa!

So, what's next? Well, someone mentioned a second election. Fine. If it means removing this awful coalition and Theresa May, then good. I'm all for it. Until then, we're stuck with it. It's not going to be fun.

I just hope that the Good Friday agreement stays in one piece. Thirty years of violence in the tortured province was thirty years too many. No more. Or as Theresa May would say: Enough is enough!








Thursday, 1 June 2017






THE HELL OF HEATHROW



On the morning of 27 May, complete chaos ensued after a computer system failure at Heathrow airport. This affected primarily British Airways (BA), who, let's be honest, have not been doing themselves any favours over the last year or so. There are three instances that spring immediately to mind.

1) A mouse was running around a plane, which a lot of people found quite humourous and were making jokes about it, which is good, but when it comes down to it, rodents should not be loose on aircraft.

2) A man went on one of their flights and suffered severe bites from the seat he was in. It was apparently covered in bed bugs. 

3) A prominent NBC journalist lost his luggage on a trip back from the Rio Olympics and had to wait at least a week to get it back. When he asked BA where his luggage was he was told to talk to a different airline he also flew with.

4) At the time of writing this, another prominent journalist was flying to New York and ended up landing in Boston. He said he wasn't too worried and it wasn't BA's fault, but it doesn't change the fact that he didn't land where he was supposed to.

Which leads us back to the situation on 27 May. I went to the airport and went into Terminal 3. What I saw amounted  to a refugee camp. People were on the floor with camping mats and blankets. Which is at least something. The people in terminal 5 where I went an hour later didn't even get that. I arrived at about 9pm. A lot of them had been there since 9am the same day. Twelve hours 

I interviewed two girls who were trying to get to Miami and had been at the airport since 6am. They asked if they could get on an American Airlines flight instead only to be told this wasn't possible. At 10.40. they were told they wouldn't be going anywhere. They asked BA staff for more information, but no-one would tell them anything. They again asked American Airlines for help and were refused. They had to queue to get their luggage back. Some people didn't even get their bags back. They were given no food, water, or anything else. They were told to try and find their own hotels, some of whom were charging £2,000 a night! They tried for a third time to get American Airlines to help them and were told, according to these two lovely people, that BA had actually told American Airlines not to help any of their BA customers! And they only just got blankets (at 10pm!). They said, "We are never, ever flying with BA EVER AGAIN!"

Then I met a young person trying to get to Kuwait with her friend. She arrived at 5pm to find out her flight to Kuwait was also cancelled. She managed to rebook a flight okay, but it didn't go until the following morning. Her only option was to get a hotel miles away from the airport where they would be cheaper.

There are lots of stories like this. The people in terminal 3 at least got camping mats and fluffy blankets, not that it was any consolation. I tried to get a statement from staff but they (not surprisingly) refused to comment.

I interviewed a man heading back to France. He said, after this, that he is never coming back to the UK. He said it was too expensive and his experience with BA has put him off completely.

This whole thing has been a complete and utter shambles. And BA should be ashamed of themselves. A computer system failure is no excuse for this appalling cock up.

My husband Don worked for a company whose business relies solely on computers. They would have regular contingency tests to ensure that if the main network went down there were always back-ups. And if something did fail, it would be a minor issue, easily corrected.

BA and airlines in general really need to have a contingency in place for major computer failures, so this kind of nonsense can never ever happen again. Of course, they would probably complain about how much it would be to instigate this. but compared to the compensation they are going to have to pay out from this incident, it's a very small price to pay.

The price of air fares is already ridiculous, which is putting a lot of people off travelling to start with, so they can certainly do without the hassle of being screwed over by a simple computer glitch.

I'm afraid BA are going to be dealing with the aftermath of this for quite a while. When all it would have taken would be a regular contingency to prevent this in the first place. Ridiculous.

I know one thing: I, along with I suspect most of the people sleeping at Heathrow, will no longer be flying with British Airways. As one passenger simply said to me: "NEVER AGAIN".