Thursday, March 11, 2010


It's hard to imagine that when commercial air travel first became popular anybody could have thought that it would turn into the current muddle of security measures, queues and pointless shopping experiences that it has become. What strikes you as you stand in line to be searched, scanned and prodded is the magnificent and stupid industry and futility of it all. Huge squads of sweaty shirt sleeved operators maintain the conveyor systems, shift the trays, stare into flickering screens and then worst of all search and tickle the poor lost beeping sod with a steel pin in his ankle or some loose change in his pocket.

In the crawl to get through to the lounge passengers adopt battery chicken facial expressions, yawn and stare into space, invariably arriving at the rollers and trays slightly surprised and despite numerous other travel experiences quite blank in the mind. They forget to take out their laptops, remove chunky belts, discard liquids or take off their jackets and then like scolded children obey the relentless last minute reminders to contain your paltry little collection of belongings in a plastic tray. Only once you have passed through the great electronic portal will you be allowed to experience the dubious privilege of flight - as a highly valued passenger, a potential target and more importantly a credit card holder.

There is of course no answer, we must be kept afraid and so the great white tide of terror has won by clubbing us into deathly obedience like wide-eyed seal pups. Our lives have become ruled by unbalanced risk assessments that see half empty and dull provincial flights to Southampton or Wick in the same light as those to Newark or Chicago and every poor Muslim traveller or olive skinned student is a threat. In the silent war that has been declared on life in the west we've only to look at our current set of overblown tactics and unfortunate reactions to know that we've lost it already.

Meanwhile outside the airport as concrete defence systems are set up to baffle attacks from Panzer Tanks or low flying Kamikaze pilots, ordinary travellers struggle to pass through these monuments to construction company profits and so enter the shrine of the travel gods. So do we feel safe, fly happier and sleep any more soundly? Not really, it's only a mater of time until some extremist pulls his rusty and flaming Hyundai into a branch of the Co-op or Morrison's. At that point it's time to get out and buy an island, any island.

Onto another matter altogether: "There were songs in that guitar"...hmmm.

I'm writing this watching "It might get loud" again.

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