Friday, November 17, 2006

The Elephant Hunters

How do you hide an elephant?
I don’t know. How do you hide an elephant?
Paint his balls red and put him up in an cherry tree.
Did you ever see an elephant in a cherry tree? It works, doesn't it?

Being searched is fun!!!

If I've posted it before I've posted it five or six times, I don't do airport security very well and I am prone to repeat myself when extolling its virtues...

I had the misfortune to have to travel through Gatwick and be subject to the improved British airport security procedures a few days ago

I have a copy of the revised liquid terror prevention procedures sitting here next to me. I’d scan them but, apparently, they’re subject to BAA copyright.

Well, we wouldn’t want anyone else plagiarising them and pretending that they’re original work would we?

Important Information ©

'Put that gel-saturated quiff down and move slowly away from the aircraft...'

As I've posted before, a few years ago a little white-haired old lady was passing through security at Stansted ahead of me and the person searching her hand luggage pulled out two bottles of brown sauce. The old dear looked a bit worried and asked ‘Can’t I take these on the plane?’ and the official said ‘No, not two bottles. You can only take one bottle of sauce with you’, he paused for comic effect and then put them both back into her bag.

How we all laughed.

Not any more though. Now the suspect terrorist bitch-whore would have to be strip-searched and then punished for not adhering to security procedures.

Take two bottles into the airliner?
Only if you want a very sore bottom

Anyway, the queue for the security check at Gatwick took well over an hour. There were conga lines of thousands of people snaking all around the airport. By the time I had passed the metal detector I had already been photographed (‘guaranteed to be erased after 24 hours’), I was holding a plastic bag filled with personal effects in the air, I was shoe-less, belt-less and had been grope-searched.

A voice on a Tannoy was periodically haranguing the waiting passengers; telling them that they would be sent to the back of their queues if they failed to comply with the new requirements to the letter.

All in all, I was feeling just a teensy wee bit violated.

As was the Other Half and a woman with a young child behind her. Both complained about some minor aspect of the procedure whilst going through the detector and, surprise surprise, both were subject to a completely random and meticulous bag search – pour encourager les autres no doubt

Whilst being subject to the completely-random-bag-search, Herself asked the searcher a few questions about the bag search process, particularly given that the bag had just passed through an X ray machine, and was given a series of stupefyingly lame answers – the gist of them were

- We’re looking for (presumably X ray proof) hand guns, knives and mysterious, unspecified dangerous items
- We are only doing our job. If you have a problem with that phone the government (to which Herself replied 'do you think I voted for them!!?')
- It’s for your safety you idiot

I muttered something to Missus along the lines of ‘Whoo, an extra five minutes having your bag searched is such a deterrent to complaining after you’ve spent an hour and a half in a queue’. For my sins I was treated to the following exchange with another security official -

‘What did you just say’
‘None of your business – I was talking to my girlfriend not to you’
‘Stop moaning’
‘You’re not the fucking Law so don’t try and give me orders’
‘I said stop moaning and if you swear again I can send you to the back of the line and you’ll miss your flight. That I CAN do!’

The jumped-up little twat was, of course, correct. I had used a rude word in response to him trying to tell me what to do. I had become an abusive passenger. And the sooner airport security staff are issued with tasers to deal with lunatics like me the better.

I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world - random bag searches for people who complain and repeated threats to bounce you off your flight if you don’t like being given orders.

And all for our own good.

Oh yes

Later, on my way back to the UK from Italy, passengers travelling to the UK from Milan were subject to separate screening procedures to the rest of Europe because my country is insane.

The environment in Gatwick last week was such that the people all around me would have stood on one leg and sung along to the Laughing Gnome if they were told to. Forget moaning about the silly things religions tell their followers to believe and do – the State is more than up to speed with obedience training for the masses.

Nobody is going to storm a plane armed with sewing kits and nail clippers and if there really are terrorists set on blowing up large numbers of people they’ll manage it – if not on a plane, then on a train, or a football stadium, or a theatre.

After all, how many times have we been told that another terrorist incident is inevitable?

Airport security has always been a balancing act and now it's just plain mental

Ha! You missed that didn't you, you bastards
The aircraft is now mine! Mine I tell you!

At least all this airport security nonsense has taught me the answer to a question that bugged me for a long time. I always wondered why all those people who were stripped of personal belongings, separated from loved ones, sorted into groups and marched onto trains towards the camps in WW2 submitted to that treatment so passively. They outnumbered their guards many fold and could have rushed them easily. But they didn’t.

And the sad thing is that it often only takes one person to stop the nonsense, just one...

A father and his eight-year-old son got off a train at Blackpool on a Friday evening two weeks ago to be confronted by a number of police officers moving passengers towards a scanner. There was a mildly threatening manner about them and it was clear that they expected everyone to pass through the scanner, which they said was being used to search for knives.

The man, whose name is Danny, quietly told the police that unless they had a very good reason, he would not be searched. One or two passengers hesitated, then joined him in refusing to go through the scanner. The police were clearly disgruntled, but couldn't do anything because Danny was right: they had to have reasonable grounds for suspecting he was carrying a knife in order to search him. 'I am not some rabid left winger or civil libertarian,' he wrote in an email to me. 'It just seems we are allowing a police state to be developed without an argument.' On the phone, he seemed to modify this by saying that the police behaviour had been oppressive.

Stop moaning Danny – they were only following orders


For completeness’ sake

The Laughing Gnome by David Bowie

I was walking down the High Street
When I heard footsteps behind me
And there was a little old man (Hello)
In scarlet and grey, shuffling away (laughter)
Well he trotted back to my house
And he sat beside the telly (Oaah..)
With his tiny hands on his tummy
Chuckling away, laughing all day (laughter)

Oh, I ought to report you to the Gnome office
(Gnome Office)

Ha ha ha, hee hee hee
"I'm a laughing Gnome and you can't catch me"
Ha ha ha, hee hee hee
"I'm a laughing Gnome and you can't catch me"
Said the laughing Gnome

etc etc


Anonymous said...

The Stanford Prison Experiment [wikipedia link]

Stef said...

Thanks for that

And the video...