From bitter experience I knew that getting though the metal detector without a beep requires taking my belt off and so I successfully managed to pass through Gatwick security without a hitch. Michele wasn’t so lucky and was subjected to a search of her hand luggage. This would have been slightly embarrassing at most but for a couple of things:
- Buried deep in her evil make-up bag was a pair of scissors. We elected to surrender them.
- The laptop bag in which she was carrying her make up triggered the explosives detector – a tad more serious.
The nice security guard explained that this is quite common and nothing to be worried about. He fetched the supervisor and then tested the bag one more time; again the machine beeped excitedly. The expressions on the faces of the guys looked more serious, but they did their best to calm us down. I asked if we were allowed to know what substance had been detected. “TNT” the supervisor replied. Michele and I were so shocked that we stopped arguing about her noxious make-up chemicals for a moment in order to stare open-mouthed.
To cut a long and tedious story short, they called special branch who, probably on the basis that we didn’t look middle eastern and had no criminal record, told them to let us go. They narrowed the ‘contaminated’ region down to the front pocket of my old laptop bag and so we asked if they would be kind enough to destroy it; the thought of the U.S. DHS bully boys finding it was frightening enough to persuade me to dump 50 quidsworth of bag. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, but orange really isn’t my colour.
Pity, it was such a useful bag. It was just the right size for taking my C4 along to the local Jihadi meetings. That was just one of the many crap jokes I decided not to make at the time. In fact Michele and I thought we shouldn’t mention the entire episode until we were safely out of sight of Philly airport; discussing TNT in any context near airworks being considered bad form these days.
We still don’t know what set the alarm off.
U.S. Airways are, in our opinion, a total bag of shite by the way. Once seated on the plane the captain came over the P.A.:
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to flight 099 to Philadelphia. We’d like to offer a warm welcome to our Gold, Select and First Class customers, and to our economy customers we’d like to offer a luke-warm welcome. Economy customers may also like to pay for some headphones to help them alleviate the frustration of watching our selection of films without sound for the duration of this 8 hour flight. They may also like to pay our brassy, pursed-lipped, hatchet-faced staff for some alcohol which is, of course, not complimentary. When we reach Philadelphia International airport, there will be a period of around 40 minutes where we remain on the tarmac while our ground crew faff about for ages trying to sort their arses from their elbows. Customers missing connecting flights as a result are welcome to pay us a load more money so they may join later flights. Have a mediocre time, and we’ll try not to crash this bargain basement A330 that is held together with sellotape!”
Well that’s not word for word but you get the idea.
But since we’ve been here it’s been wonderful. Lovely weather, and so, so much superb food. Michele’s mum had stayed up the night before our arrival cooking a massive lump of ham for me to pick at during my stay, and since then I’ve had a Philly cheesesteak, an Italian hoagie and one of the biggest and most wonderful Italian meals available to mankind.
I fear that if we stay here too long, I may risk losing my sylph-like figure.