The 3 Ss: secutity, security, security
My first trip abroad was as a thirteen year old school boy with little experience of international travelling unless you count the sunny expanse that is the sands of Rhyl, which I don’t. Off we went, 50 of us with two French teachers on a bus via the Channel to Paris for three days of culture and messing about and getting little in the way of sleep. I can’t actually remember going through customs so it must have been all fairly easy, although I may have been playing cards with my mate Planty at the time. He went on the school trip to Amsterdam the year before and had a neat line in playing cards, sporting ladies in various stages of undress. That said, I can’t remember customs at all there or on the way back and we were not blown up or attacked by strange men in beards and sandals so it must have worked out ok.
Compare my first French trip with the trip I have planned this May, if you would. This May I am off to Paris for the Heineken Cup final. For those of you not familiar with the game played by large men with funny shaped balls, the Heineken cup final is the Champions league final for rugby union. Each year, for the last five years, my younger, less good looking, slightly shorter and more round brother and I have attended rugby’s showpiece event when Europe’s finest teams knock seven shades of shit out of each other for 80 minutes, the supporters all get drunk and sit together, un segregated, and the team with the most players left on the field at the end becomes the champions of Europe. This year things will be different, because this year the final is in Paris and to get there I will have to bet my kit off, go naked for the privilege of leaving this fine country of ours.
But why, I hear, do you need to do such a thing this year? Well this time I fly from Manchester airport to Paris and as such I volunteer to go through the security checks stark bollock naked. Well, not exactly. At Manchester they have those scanners, the ones that you have to stand in front or, put your hands in the air and let some strange person see everything that you have, and I mean everything. Following the ridiculous attempt to blow up a plane over America on Christmas Day by some deranged lunatic who had explosives in his underpants, yes folks Semtex in your grundies, don’t try it at home kids, I now have to go through customs with my pride on show to some bloke, and/or woman in an ill fitting suit. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need security at our airports and I understand that there is a threat by certain more fanatical elements but it is not certain that the new naked machines would have picked up the explosives hidden in the undies anyway. Even if it might have done, does this excuse the voyeuristic approach to our safety? I suggest not. The alleged terrorist was on the radar of the security forces in the US and UK and was allowed to fly so who was responsible? Not the person having their dignity removed so that they can fly to Malaga for a two week piss up once a year.
In the UK our apathetic approach to the 24-hour surveillance society has enabled our government to install 14 million surveillance cameras in the UK. That’s one for every four us or one for every family household. Why not just put one up in your living room, or better still the bathroom? I mean it would ensure that we weren’t popping half a tom of Semtex up our old man while we were in there, and if we linked the images to the security desk at the airport, the security staff would know in advance of any potential activity that could be described as ‘dodgy’.
But don’t worry too much; the airport nude scanners are just the tip of the iceberg. A company in Oxfordshire has developed a range of naked CCTV cameras so they could well be coming to a street near you. If we ran about down our street naked, we would get arrested. I got a fine of £60 and was bound over to keep the peace for 12 months when I did it on my birthday. It seems to me that our government wants to make public nudity compulsory.