Friday, August 18, 2006

Weapon of Mastication

Took a short break to Vienna recently with my usual travelling companions The Wire and Mr T. This is before airport security became loony again. I could have told them that fizzy drinks are dangerous. As usual no one asked me. They use the stuff to clean coins for effsake. I always say obsessive compulsives don’t miss planes. The Wire is with me on this one but Mr T is always trying to negotiate himself an extra fifteen minutes sleep. He’s also in charge of booking the tickets so why he feels inclined to book us on 9am flights is anyone’s guess. We’re at Heathrow at 7.30, Mr T mustering his best bleary-eyed look.

We figure once we work out how to use the on-line check-in facility we’ll be laughing because we only ever take small back-packs. I’ve got the ablution kit down to a microscopic miracle of little sample jars. There’s still the tiny matter of having to take off everything that is holding something else up before they let you through that beeping machine but what’s a little loss of dignity when continental Europe is only a few short hours away?

Mr T’s pack gets put to one side. While he’s preparing his righteous indignation I remind him of what a good idea it is to get to the airport early. The steam has to beat a hasty retreat back into his ears when Mr Customs finds a knife. It was only a butter knife but we all know that knives are a big no-no. Imagine if it had been this week. “How could that have got in there?” Mr T helpfully speculates and tries to remember the last time he went on a picnic. I don’t get why round knives are such a big threat anyway. On those rare flights where they still feed passengers you get a plastic knife that couldn’t dissect spaghetti and a metal fork. I can tell you which I’d rather not have held at my throat.

While Mr T is receiving his well-deserved admonishment, my pack has come under scrutiny. “It’s a knife or some other weapon”, Mr X-Ray machine announces. As if! I quickly try to remember the last time I went on a picnic or, indeed, Nuremburg rally. The problem with taking only hand luggage on holiday is that, if they do decide to search it, you have to take out everything in front of everyone in the whole terminal. At least it was on the way out and not the return leg so the smalls were clean, folded even. I had all my clothes wrapped up in a Respect Festival hessian carrier bag. I hope the irony wasn’t lost.

Could they find anything? No. It wasn’t until I got on the plane that it dawned. It must have been my electric toothbrush, that AK47 shaped weapon of mastication. Actually, up a nostril, it could cause severe discomfort. It seems that things are getting back to normal security wise, although there was a major freak-out when a plane landed in the States yesterday with a tube of toothpaste or something on it. Talk about make no sudden movements. Some poor sod with bipolar disorder got shot a while back for acting a bit weird. You wouldn’t want to be a nervous flyer. But wouldn’t you know it, now I’ve mastered the art of travelling light, my bag’s going back in the hold. I’m going to have to get a bigger, sturdier bag and fill it up, obviously.

Photo from www.softcom.net

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