BE SEEING YOU
Ferihegy. Terminal 1.
"No liquids are allowed on board, including gels, pastes and lotions."
Now, let me get this straight, okay. You say that all the above itemries could shield ingredients which, when mixed together, could cause quite a serious loss of aerodynamic performance, right?
But you are going to allow me to take up to 100ml of each forbidden substance providing the whole lot doesn't add up to more than a litre and will fit into a re-sealable plastic bag, yeah?
You do realise this is completely barking, don't you?
And just how come you decided to let those two girls through with their 300ml soft drink bottles and yet have no choice but to bin my shaving foam and cigarette lighter?
London. Luton. (Yeah, right.)
Christ, it's cold.
So, off to passport control, customs and immigration and, once again, evidence of the quite clearly deranged. There are two policemen in flak jackets, one flanking the hall and the other behind the booths. They are each armed with a semi-automatic (and very plastic looking) rifle and a holstered pistol. The rifle is held in the Port position and the trigger finger, across the trigger guard.
I tried...honest. I really tried to find an even half-way rational explanation for this and came up with absolutely nothing. A couple of beat cops would have been sufficient to deal with any disturbance at what I imagine must be just about the safest place in the entire airport. The only warning signs visible in the whole area were those banning smoking and mobile phones and sure enough, the flanker busied himself with the seriously telecomically challenged and I was left wondering whether or not he operated a three strikes and you're out policy. Even I could learn to love that.
England. (Oooops, sorry...the Regions of the UK.)
Oh dear, oh dear.
What a race of whinging, spineless, helpless and dependent nancies we have become. The land of the sheep and the home of the cowed. You generally get what you deserve and the nanny state is what we've got. Is there any area of our lives into which we will not allow the government control freaks? Any limit to the amount of shoddy service we will accept? A point at which we will say, "No mas" to the spin and downright falsehoods of our elected representatives at Westminster?
Just what the fuck is going on with this much vaunted and imminent ban on smoking? An entirely legal activity, harming only the smokers themselves and one which nets the government a fair whack in revenue, will only be possible in the comfort of one's own home or in one's car. Now I am of an age which allows me to recall when theatres and cinemas were all smoking areas and yet nary a cough or minor protestation was evident during the entire performance. These days, an actor lights a cigarette on stage and half the audience breaks out in sympathetic bronchial expectorations. Bollocks. Conditioning is all.
You may deduce from the above that one, I am a smoker and two, that I hold no truck with all the passive smoking twaddle either and you would be right on both counts. The issue seems to me to be about unpleasantness and lack of consideration which I am, most definitely against and consider them both to be evils of our time. Now we have designated smoking areas, smoking rooms in offices and groups of smokers gathered outside buildings feeding their addiction or just revelling in the pleasure that only tobacco can provide. And just what the fuck is wrong with that? Nothing as far as I can see. And yet even these are to go when the legislation comes into force. Where is it going to stop? When will talking too loudly on a mobile phone be punishable by a fine? Or personal hygiene problems? Farting in an enclosed space? Car stereos at excessive decibel levels? It's bollocks. It's discrimination. And it needs to go.
Green. Green. Green. The colour of the moment it would appear. The colour of both a healthy spring meadow and a decidedly unhealthy globule of snot. Everybody is stressing their green credentials, making the right environmental noises and yet really, actually, in fact, doing absolutely bugger all about it. The government is already some 30% behind its interim targets to allow it to meet its treaty obligations by 2020 or whatever and yet Blair is interviewed about his frequent flying and is allowed to waffle on about new fuels and new aircraft design being the answer. The only problem with this is that there are at the moment and well into the foreseeable future no alternative fuels available and the new designs he mentions have so many inherent stability problems that they would have all the airworthiness of a not particularly streamlined breeze block. Gordon Brown is allowed to get away with breaking his promise to freeze duty on LPG fuel and, with oil and gas reserves approaching worryingly low levels is not at all interested in providing any funding whatsoever for research into alternative energy technologies. I heard, so don't quote me, that some English developments in nuclear fusion were as usual, ignored and not funded and they are now being investigated by the French. And talking of the bloody government, just whose brilliant idea was it to make the need for EU qualifications for NHS doctors retrospective by 10 years? I'm sure all the Indians who were invited over here and welcomed in order to keep our health service going in the face of almost overwhelming odds weren't expecting any form of gratitude. Surely not.
And then there's Lincolnshire county council. Selective waste collection or somesuch. Every household now needs three bins into which must be deposited only that which the waste collection service instructs people to so do. A very worthy initiative, I'm sure and yet...
Okay, there's the investment in three outside dustbins and, if you are too lazy to go outside every time you need to throw something away, three indoor ones as well. They do not collect from the driveway anymore so every senior citizen has to struggle to get them to the kerbside. And last but not least, there is one material missing from the list of those of which they will dispose. Glass. That's right, bottles, mustard and jam jars, pots of face cream, the lot. Any glass. Right out.
Now, where I was staying, in a little village just on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, the nearest bottle banks were a drive away either to Spilsby (about 3 miles) or to Horncastle (about 15). These have now disappeared, no doubt due to the impossibility of emptying them frequently enough to keep up with the demand. All thoroughly thought through as you can see. I have visions of old auntie Ethel gradually being shunted out of her own house by the sheer weight of empty glass containers.
It's all getting too much. Identity cards, road charges, ASBOs, surveillance cameras, the lot. Maybe we should just have a chip implanted at birth and give up completely. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Christ, it's cold.
"Do you have any forbidden, dangerous items on you at all, sir?"
"Only my lighter and I'll bin that before going through to departures."
"No need at all, sir. There's even a smoking area now, attached to the bar in the departures building. You can take it on the plane as well."
"It depends on the airline, sir."
"I flew with you on the way here and I lost my Zippo."
"Ah. You do know you're three kilos over your baggage allowance, don't you? That'll be 15 pounds."
"I was 5 kilos under on the way here. Do I get a discount?"
"That'll be 15 pounds."
Ferihegy. Terminal 1.
Lights on, nobody home. No passport control, no customs, nothing.
Ferihegy. Terminal 2. Guarded parking.
"6 days then, sir. 18 000 forints."
"6 days? I brought it in at 5 o' clock on Thursday afternoon and it's now 20:30 on Tuesday. That's a whole day for three and a half hours' parking?"
"That'll be 18 000 forints please, sir."
Fuckery. But at least I can smoke.