ONE BAG

I really am glad that people are taking threats of terrorist action seriously; dont get me wrong. Of course I dont want to get blowed up – and I dont want anyone else to either. So yay for the whole security thing in theory. Big fucking boo for the whole security thing in practice.

  • At Heathrow: I have to take my shoes off, because ever other person has to take their shoes off, and I happen to be one of those people. Luckily, they have rumbled the terrorist play of standing one person apart. Whistling. Luckily for me, I didnt whistle.

But I did take my shoes off.

After that one, admittedly tighter security check than usual (the one-in-two shoe test), we were let loose in the departure lounge, free to buy whatever we liked once more. Unfortunately, it was 7.15am, and I couldnt quite face vodka. And by 8am, which is of course a perfectly acceptable time for drinkies, I was happily tucked into my departure gate with a good book. Or not a good book, but a book all the same. There was no security check between the lounge and the gate. I never imagined there ould be such a thing. I hadnt been to India yet.

  • Shoes off, bag, cardigan, scarf being run through the machine, I padded along to the lady-patting booth and there waited in line with the other ladies to be perfenctorarily patted down by a stern-looking lady in a hat.

In the last week, I have seen a lot of action in the stern-looking-lady-in-a-hat department. I met quite a lot more of them than usual – I clearly dont generally go to the right bars – and every single one Ive met this week has wanted to grope me, ineffectually.

This was the last airport of the week. The last patting down (I thought)

Security at Indian airports is tighter than a sparrows minge. It is not unusual to go through three, or sometimes four lady-pattings (or, should you be a man, man-grapplings) between the door and the your valued 3-inch-square plane-seat prize.

Mumbai took the biscuit.

Literally.

I had a biscuit, from the hotel, in my bag for the flight, and the officials at the Mumbai bagcheck took my biscuit. Which annoyed me, because theyd said plenty about liquids, and nothing, as far as I was aware, about biscuits. Snacks on the plane frowned upon, apparently.

So heres the routine: At the entrance to the airport, we were asked questions. At this point, before check in, all luggage, including hand luggage, was scanned by the Big Motherfucking x-rayer. Some bags were carried around and put through the Big Motherfucking X-rayer again.

At check-in, an inordinate number of questions were asked about the contents of hand luggage. It was mentioned, for the ninetieth time that week, that no liquids were allowed, including lipstick and moisturiser and bottles of water. I was going to ask if my gun was alright then?, but decided my yearning for my beloved was too strong, and I should stay schtum.

Then the departure gate, where no liquid was on sale, bar the bar. No bottled liquid. De-bottled liquid, yes. Bottled, nononono. Our flight was called. We hurried to the departure gate, and joined the queue for security. The shoes off, scarf off, cardigan off, bag down, and padding toward the gate. Patpat, boarding pass stamped, and off we went to collect our, oh. Post scanning, they want to open all the bags. Unpack all the contents. Turn on all the laptops, and press all the buttons on the cameras.

I have no thought for my privacy – privacy feh, I have nothing worth scandal, sadly, but the point is: a hoarding womans handbag is a work of art. Its packed careful. Within an inch of its life, often. Yes, you CAN unpack it: but you need to give me half an hour and a bed-sized work area to repack it. So asking me to get my laptop out and turn it on wasnt that great.

Trying desperately to turn it off, walking the three steps toward the man who would be checking our boarding pass on the way into the second half of the departure gate (metal and polyester benches screwed to the floor. Nothing else there) I frantically tried to turn Billy Laptop off again, desperate to save every square inch of battery before I put him back in my

ONE BAG

He pointed at my hangbag, then pointed at billy laptop. ONE BAG, he said. But this isnt a and Im only Because gesticulating, and whining, and telling myself to bite my tongue, because all I was required to do was tuck it perillously back in the top of the handbag, and then we could go through, and yay! Plane!

Yay, plane?

Sadly no.

Between the departure gate of the screwed-down benches and the plane of the two-inch-squared prize bounty-seats, there was, as there often is, a glass tunnel. And as we neared the glass tunnel, my heart sank.

There was the queue. There was the lady-patting booth. There was a hand-held scanny thing and there, yes, yes, was a table where they were unpacking everybodys handbags.

Just what they were thinking I was going to conjure up between the first security check and the second, I cannot for the life of me imagine. How, did they think, was I supposed to sneak a screwed-down bench onto the plane, exactly? And what, now we come to mention it, did they think I was going to do with the damn thing once it was on there?

Apart from perhaps sit on it, which would at least be an improvement on the two-by-two buttock-numbing knee-crushing long-haul humane-trap they were going to offer me anyway.

God Im tired. You have to excuse me. Too much on, not sure if still jetlagged, suddenly moved into a new pattern of work and Im tired and I ramble when Im tired.

But anyway yes, it was, though a dehydrating experience, a good one; the security, I felt very safe and am no ingrate etc. And Im very glad that no one is bloweding anyone else up. And long may that continue. I think as long as they keep the one-in-two shoe deal going, well probably be alright.

Thing is, much as I like the opportunity to reorganise my satchel, and much as I like being patted by stern ladies in hats, I am glad my brush with the glamorous terrorist lifestyle is over, at least for this month.