In case you missed it, last week I was at ibtm world in Barcelona. It was lovely; a veritable smorgasbord of agencies, destinations, bureaus, accents, and expensive suits, all under the roof of the is-it-isn’t-it finished Fira Gran Via.
However, what I didn’t mention in my blog from Spain was the brouhaha kicking off in the airport when I arrived. In fact, to be honest, I didn’t even realise until I was leaving Spain that something was afoot. When I arrived at the airport, the Spanish equivalent of Arthur Scargill and his chums were manning the picket line, chanting at the establishment and making their voices heard.
They were cleaners and, for reasons unknown even to Reuters, they were on strike. What it was about is irrelevant, although I suspect pay.
When we arrived at the wrong terminal for our flight home – and after a truly terrible burger – the floors were, and I’m not exaggerating, completely buried under litter. The bins were overflowing and the less said about the toilets the better. It was like a scene from 28 Days Later. Although, I fear, exposing yourself to a disease that turns you into a zombie would be preferable.
It was all rather grim.
I understand the need for trade unions and that industrial action keeps the Government and paymasters in check, and in Britain we are certainly no strangers to the working man’s fondness for standing around the brazier. Be it our now-dead car industry, now-dead coal industry, now-dead steel industry or soon-to-be-dead National Health Service. And trains. We’ve seen it all, too.
But there’s always an apology, or at least an explanation.
When you go abroad the first thing you see – the first thing – is the airport. It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge glass and steel temple of architectural magnificence or a mud hut with no windows, so long as it is clean.
Cleanliness is a sign that you are looking after what you have. You don’t need money to be clean. Arriving at – and departing from – Barcelona was a travesty. It was the first time I had visited the city and it is the standout memory I will take away with me. The superb architecture? The well-laid out roads? The great food? No, sorry, I will always associate it with not being able to use the loo and the smell of rotten vegetables.
No explanation was offered in any language, and certainly no apology. I don’t propose a solution because I don’t know the facts. And, frankly, I don’t care. I just want to be able to throw my disgusting burger in the bin without fear of it coming back to life.
Let’s hope everyone cleans up their acts before next years’ ibtm world.