Last Friday, I found myself standing in a short queue at Newcastle airport. I could immediately discern that the global economic recession is starting to take hold up in the bleak, industrial North. Normally, at this time, Newcastle airport is packed with hoardes of Geordie holidaymakers bound for the Mediterranean and beer swilling lads in Newcastle football shirts going on a, err, cultural visit to Prague.
However, to my surprise, last Friday, the airport was eerily quiet. No queue for the self-service kiosk. No queue to check the bag, No queue to enter the security area. No snaking queues with temporary barriers to navigate. No smiling, happy, expectant people discussing their fourth overseas holiday of the year.
In fact, just a scattering of tired, emotional businessmen, pilots and aircrew passing their bags, belts and shoes through the security scanner.
As usual, I go to grab my laptop off the conveyor belt and hope my trousers don’t fall down. The vigilant lady says ‘Brian - get that bag’. I sigh as Brian says ‘Excuse me, Sir - is this your bag ?’ I own up and he starts to pull out the various adapters, wires, power supplies and cables. He looks towards the vigilant lady. ‘Is it this lot ?’ ‘No - it’s round, circular’.
Brian delves further into the tardis that is my Targus laptop bag. To my horror, he drags out an empty bag of ‘Liquorice Twists’ and a copy of ‘Oracle Magazine’ that I nicked from work. A pretty lady dressed in a nice trouser suit looks dismissively at me while she puts her shoes back on. I feel myself start to redden. It gets worse as I realise my trousers have fallen down.
And, finally, Brian finds it. He triumphantly pulls out a roll of Sellotape. I have carted this all around Europe and the UK in the forlorn hope that I would somehow summon up the enthusiasm to do my expenses in a lonely hotel room. But, of course, I never did.
Vigilant lady scowls: ‘Yeah - that’s it, Brian.’ Brian then quickly places the almost full roll of high quality Sellotape into an unseen drawer. ‘Sorry, Sir but I am going to have to confiscate that item.’
‘Are you serious ? I have lugged that Sellotape all around Europe for two years and never been challenged once. In any case, how will I do my expenses now. You must know that staples are explicitly not allowed by Section 3.1.2a of the expenses policy. And before you say it, nor is Blu-Tac.’
‘Sorry, Sir but I must confiscate this item in the interests of security.’
‘Come on - at least tell me why.’
Vigilant lady momentarily takes her eagle eyes off the camera and spits out: ‘Because, Sir, that item could be used as a restraining device on the aircraft. That is why.’
So, next time, you’re on a plane and your neighbour reaches for the overhead locker and pulls out a roll of Sellotape - be frightened, be afraid, be very afraid because he isn’t going to simply update his holiday scrapbook.
That manic psychopath is going to bind and gag you; he is going to wrap you up tight like an Egyptian Mummy; he is going to wrap you up like a Christmas present from your mother-in-law (with no air-holes).
Then, he is going to wield you in front of him, advancing forward through the plane from your aisle seat in 23C, brandishing a roll of Sellotape. He will then ignore the screams of passengers and break into the cabin, demanding the immediate release of political prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and that the plane diverts to Tehran immediately with a press conference on arrival or you are going to get it !
With the heavy duty duct tape.