I flew back to Orly tonight from Dusseldorf. If ever there was an airport that would benefit from being razed to the ground and built again, it's Orly.
At least LHR (the previous leader in this dubious contest) had the decency to build us T5. Orly just struggles on with something that closely resembles the NYC Port Authority bus station, circa 1985. If you never went to the Port Authority in the 80's, you've surely seen Desperately Seeking Susan enough times to know that it's a truly dreadful place. What do you mean you never saw the film? Really? Am I the only person to have seen it five times?
Anyway, Orly was a disaster and on top of walking the length of the Champs Elysées to get to baggage reclaim, I had to wait an hour for my bag. This was kind of poor, given that the flight itself was only 45 minutes long.
But the point of this story isn't the airport, or Madonna, or the bags. It's the Germans.
Now, do you get a round of applause for doing your job to a 'regular-but-nothing-special' standard? No? Me either. Apparently German pilots do.
As Captain Skippy bounced us down the tarmac at Orly, the Germans on board broke out into a spontaneous round of applause. With cheers thrown in for good measure. It reached a point where I thought we'd all end up linking arms and singing "for hee's a cholly gut fellow", but luckily no, they only went as far as the cheering and the clapping.
Why is this? The flight had been turbulent - enough to make you feel sick, but not enough to warrant thinking that the flight crew had battled to keep us up there. The service had been, erm, teutonic. The sandwich - the choice in German of 'käse oder salami' translated, bizarrely, to 'cheese or turkey' in english - was best left unwrapped. The boarding was late and the arrival behind schedule.
What about this trip deserved a big old round of applause? Nothing. I can only imagine they'd had a glühwein or two on their way to the airport.
I was, as you'd imagine, extremely pleased to get off the plane and leave the applauding fools behind.
Speaking of applauding fools, I never really filled you in on last week's 'dinner-dance' with the great and the good, did I?
Well, I was in a tux, looking like the belle of the ball and was joined at the dinner table by a Knight of the Realm and an OBE. It doesn't get much fancier. Alas it couldn't be much worse either.
I moved away from the conversation that included the line "Michael Heseltine said to me, darling that's a tip-top whizz-bang idea - now where do we find the budget for it..." and found myself stuck with the woman whose opening gambit was "How many women do you employ". I mean, jeez Germaine, it's over. We even employ the gays now you know.
The culmination of the evening was the presentation of the charity cheque. This year the chosen charity was a fund set up for people learning to rebuild lives following spinal injuries.
At the request of the 'compère', the representative of the charity wheeled herself on stage to accept the cheque.
Now, call me dark, but I was really hoping - nay praying - that there'd be a giant cheque. Reader, I love me a giant cheque and, praise be, my wishes were fulfilled. But any joy at the sight of the giant cheque (where do you get them anyway?) was taken away by the DJ's choice of music to accompany the cheque giving ceremony.
As the woman - who had courageously rebuilt her life, having found herself paralysed from the waist down due to a terrible sporting injury - received a cheque for a piddling £5,000 (is that the best they could do?) the DJ played "the winner takes it all".
The stunned silence was deafening.