A Bit of a Wrench - 'Twitters from the Atlantic

As regular readers of my ‘Twitters’ will by now realise, airports do give me problems. Whether it is excess luggage or simply that the wretched security alarms will just not stop bleeping when I enter their territory; it is always an annoying and often embarrassing experience. My recent visit to the UK was a case in point.

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1. A Bit of a Wrench - 'Twitters from the Atlantic'

‘Twitters from the Atlantic’ by Barrie Mahoney

Barrie Mahoney was a teacher, head teacher and school inspector in the UK, as well as a reporter in Spain, before moving to the Canary Islands as a newspaper editor. He is still enjoying life in the sun as a writer and author.

 

A Bit of a Wrench

 

As regular readers of my ‘Twitters’ will by now realise, airports do give me problems. Whether it is excess luggage or simply that the wretched security alarms will just not stop bleeping when I enter their territory; it is always an annoying and often embarrassing experience. My recent visit to the UK was a case in point.

Some time ago I was tempted to purchase a new kind of adjustable spanner. It was marketed heavily on television and in the national press and after a sorry incident with our downstairs loo - I won’t go into detail here - and many hours of grappling with all manner of antiquated tools, I decided that if I had one of these new ‘super spanners’ the job would have been done in a flash. Although I dropped many hints to my partner, sadly one did not appear in my Christmas stocking.

After Christmas none were to be seen in the shops and it was my brother who came to the rescue. He would order one from Amazon and give it to me when I returned to the UK. Why he could not have had it sent direct to me I did not like to ask and so I looked forward to collecting the magic tool during my next visit to see the family.

“Now then sir, is this your bag?” came an officious sounding voice at Gatwick Airport security. I had just been frisked once again by a security officer and had thought that my ordeal was over for the time being. I nodded.

“Would you mind coming over to this table whilst I empty your bag? We have just x-rayed your bag and you have two suspicious items inside. I would like to examine these items more closely and in your presence.” I was beckoned to a nearby table whilst the security officer donned rubber gloves and began removing all the items from my bag. Oh dear, here we go again!

“My, sir certainly likes his toys, doesn’t he?” frowned the security officer as he removed a laptop computer, three mobile phones, various adapters, Tom Tom navigation unit and accessories as well as a number of cables, dongles and plug ins. He frowned again as he retrieved a number of small Christmas presents carefully packed by an elderly relative. He waved one of the small items in the air. “This is one of them. Do you know what’s inside?”

I had no idea, but suddenly realising that this was not the correct answer, I replied, “A potato peeler. I cannot get a good one at home and Auntie Gertie thought we would like it.”

The security officer smiled. “Hmm, yes, it feels like it. It would be a pity to open it, wouldn’t it. Would spoil Auntie Gertie’s surprise. I’ll x-ray it again and see.” This time he was being remarkably helpful and I thanked him. After a moment or two he returned to the table with a spring in his step.

“Yes, that’s it. A potato peeler it is, but don’t tell Auntie Gertie I told you.” He laughed heartily. “Now what about this other item?”

The security officer proceeded to remove the last items from my large and heavy bag. “Hmm, now if I am not mistaken, I think you will find that this is the problem.”  He triumphantly held my brother’s gift - my new adjustable spanner in the air. “You cannot take this on board, sir. This wrench is potentially a dangerous weapon.”

“You cannot be serious,” I responded angrily. “It is not a wrench, it is an adjustable spanner,” I protested, but sensibly recognising that a dialogue about the Oxford Dictionary definition of both spanner and a wrench would not be entirely appropriate at this point.  “Look it is still in its plastic packaging. You would need a strong pair of scissors, if not a sharp knife, to open it. We all know that any self respecting terrorist would only consider carrying out his dastardly deed with a pair of nail scissors or a nail file, but I cannot see any terrorist wanting to use my spanner without first removing it from its plastic packaging. To do that they would need scissors or a sharp knife which, as we both know, are banned,” I added triumphantly.

This was the wrong response and for a moment I thought that I was about to be arrested. The security officer frowned. “This item, sir, is a dangerous wrench and in the wrong hands it could be a lethal weapon just as it is, plastic packaging and all. I have no alternative, but to confiscate it. You will just have to tell your Auntie Gertie that we are sorry, but she really must not send you back on flights with dangerous items in your hand luggage.”

Dear Auntie Gertie, who died long ago I might add, would be spinning in her grave if she knew that an innocent potato peeler and an adjustable spanner, attributed to her generosity in the spur of the moment, were considered even possible threats for an act of terrorism. Now her heavy handbag and sharp stiletto heels were an entirely different matter... Sorry, Auntie!

 

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his latest novel, ‘Journeys and Jigsaws’ (ISBN: 9781843865384).

 

© Barrie Mahoney

 

 

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