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It's a plane brilliant bit of business; We need more O'Learys.

Byline: BOB SHIELDS

CONSIDERING the price we pay for a ticket and the length of time we're on board, I'm amazed it's taken so long for someone to give the big airlines a right good kick in the cockpits.

Michael O'Leary, head banana of low-cost airline Ryanair, wants to introduce slot machines and pay-per-view football on his planes.

We should all open a wee bag of nibbly things and a miniature of whisky in gratitude.

The airline giants have had it their own way for too long.

The make us arrive hours early, shoehorn us into cramped seats, serve us cardboard sandwiches and scowl at anyone who asks for a second swally.

A cigarette? You must be joking. You can't even get a drag at airports now unless you hide behind a pillar.

Hiding behind the all-encompassing "for safety reasons" rule, they've stripped airliners of anything remotely resembling a liner.

The only thing planes have in common with luxury ships these days is a captain - and round windows.

It's about time someone put a bit of flair back into flying. And gaming machines and football will hopefully just be the take-off.

Getting rid of those awful seats, and their boring rows, should be next. And instead of bringing us our drinks, we should be going up to the bar in the sky.

Don't give me all this safety hokum. If you hit something at 400mph, you're dead - and I'd rather meet my maker with a Guinness and a fag than with my head rammed up against a plastic tray in the brace position.

As for food, I appreciate planes don't have much space. But there must be enough room somewhere in the hold for a decent kitchen area. And even a small restaurant

Imagine being able to order up a nice steak and a bottle of decent wine to eat at a real table with real eating irons. Or choose Chinese, Italian or Indian.

For entertainment, I'd have karaoke up the front for the grown-ups and the hokey-cokey up the back for the kids. Can you imagine some Japanese businessmen getting the mike after a couple of large ones? What a party.

On long haul, we'd roll out the roulette wheels and pass round bingo cards for the old folks. And downstairs, the restaurant would turn into a nightclub and disco.

You always see top tottie on planes, but never get sat next to them. This would definitely change all that.

Of course, under the present airline managements, all this is about as likely as Richard Branson becoming a hermit.

Many bosses used September 11 as an excuse to jettison jobs that were going to be axed anyway.

The airline business was already crash-landing because passengers couldn't afford the spiralling prices.

Mr O'Leary has broken the mould and it's a pity there aren't any more of him to sit on the boards of British Airways and British Midland.

Yes, that's what we need. One, two, three O'Leary's.

ROBERT REDFORD is alleged to have had an "eye lift".

At the Oscars, a few people commented on his new "wide-awake" look.

Yet Redford always maintained he would never go under the knife, saying: "My face has been good to me. Why should I change it?"

Now we know - the Sundance Kid is as vain as the rest of them.

I'VE got my fiver on Monty for the US Masters this week at 66 to 1.

Mind you, I've had a fiver on him for every "major" for the last five years and got zilch return, but I reckon big Colin has still got it in him.

And what a boost it would be for a country who can't win anything these days . . . apart from throwing stones down an ice rink.

"Monty the Master" has a nice ring to it.

And the bookie's till will have a nicer ring when they pay me out. Let's cheer him on when play starts on Thursday.

THE hottest job in Hollywood just now is a "sober companion".

Unfortunately, I don't have any that I could sub-let.

But a "sober companion" is hired at pounds 1500-a-day to keep top stars from over- indulging in booze, drugs and anything else they want to over-indulge in.

Insurance companies insist on them before taking liability for any movie whose star has a bad history of "sick leave".

A three-day binge and two days of sobering up can cost pounds 1 million of lost film production time.

The "sober companions" sometimes sleep in the same room and even share going to the toilet to keep an eye on their famous charges.

One has admitted being offered huge bribes to let their client have a drink.

But I know what I would say if offered pounds 30,000 to supply a bottle of whisky to a dressing room.

"Do you want water or lemonade with that, pal?"

THE Government's treatment of our school dinner ladies - and maybe a few dinner men - is outrageous.

These lowly-paid angels don't get any holiday money when school is out. But they cannot claim any other kind of benefit either.

These ladies are more than just cooks and servers. They're nurses, nannies and part-time mothers to thousands of kids.

I'm asking everyone who has ever had a school dinner to call their MSP and demand justice for the dinner set.

If that doesn't work, we're sending round the sloppy mince, prunes and semolina.

GRIEF, sympathy and respect I can understand.

But queuing for six hours to walk past the coffin of someone you never met is quite beyond me.

It wouldn't be so bad if most of them had some connection with the Queen Mother.

But those interviewed on TV were mostly overseas rubber necks going for a mawkish gawp.

During yesterday's procession, one commentator said of the pomp and ceremony, "no country in the world does it better".

That's because most countries in the world have grown up and grown out of firing cannons in public parks as some kind of tribute.

Nine days of mourning is far too long - even the Royal Family must feel drained by it.

The old girl waited long enough to rest in peace.

Lying in state is an old and cold way to treat her.
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Title Annotation:Bob Shields Page
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 6, 2002
Words:1045
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