Watching RyanAir cabin crew struggling to serve overpriced canned drinks to customers on a packed airborne cattle-truck yesterday I was struck by the memory that there was a time, in the 1950s and 1960s, when socially ambitious Irish parents used to pray that one of their daughters would become an ‘airline hostess’ on the national carrier, Aer Lingus. That way, you see, they’d be sure to meet a rich man and marry well. It wasn’t an entirely daft idea, either: airline travel was an expensive and socially exclusive business at the time — and flying was often a pleasant experience. I remember catching an Aer Lingus flight from London to Dublin in the late 1960s and finding myself upgraded to the ‘First Class’ part of the plane (curtained off from the hoi-polloi behind) — where I was served with a glass of champagne, if you please. Ah, those were the days. Sigh. Er, did I ever tell you about the Boer War…?