I’m getting ready to run a half-marathon (no, please, please – you’ll frighten the horses with your applause) in Bantry at the beginning of next month. There are a lot of interesting aspects to doing this, including the recurring thought “Am I mad/stupid/consumed by a death-wish?”, but the one that struck me today was the way institutions – more specifically places – like to rip you off. My last encounter with this was a few years back, when we were leaving Vancouver airport. We’d bitten deep into the bank balance, as usually is the case with holidays, and were about to leave this good-looking airport, when so help me, a pleasant airport official put a gun to my head and told me to give him around fifty quid. In Canadian dollars. OK, he didn’t actually use a gun but he made it clear that if we didn’t fork out this extra sum, we just weren’t going to get leaving his nice airport. Something to do with an airport tax and the need to keep this lovely airport looking lovely or even lovelier. We had to pay, of course. No choice. Sprung on us at the last minute when there wasn’t any possible way of going back. So today, after much online meandering, I finally located a reasonably-priced car for rental. I couldn’t get a car to rent in Cork city, which struck me as a bit odd. All the car rentals are located at Cork airport, about five or six miles outside the city. So what the hell, I thought – I’ll get out there, I’ll book it. So I did, online. And when I had given my credit card details and all the rest, swounds, I look and see a little note that says ‘A standard airport surchange of €28 will be added to the cost when you pick up your car from Cork Airport’. That’s the equivalent of an extra day’s rental cost. So should I cancel my booking? No point, except I want to opt for a bicycle during my time down there, where I’m confidently told the scenery is simply yummy. So now I know why they’ve located all the car rentals out at the airport. Not to convenience the flight passengers (which I’m not) but to take money out of their pockets and the pockets of others who’re left with no choice. A small Irish gun or a slightly bigger Canadian gun – take your pick.