Tag Archives: Security

Fiddler On The Balcony


‘Who’s that on the top balcony? I haven’t see them at the pool yet. Are they new?”

Jane’s question reached me through my comatose state me. I cracked open one eye to peer at her and weigh up whether or not to move. She was facing the balcony she was staring at while I was lay in the opposite direction. I was sprawled in an almost stupor in the afternoon heat, only moving to shift my sun-bed around occasionally to maintain some contact with the small amount of shade off the umbrella. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to turn to look where she indicated. I was very comfortable.

This state was light years away from the start of our holiday.

I have to say, my recent encounters of trying to pass through airport security en-route to my holiday destination sure-as-hell wasn’t the relaxing start I want the beginning of my break to be. I’d had enough the year before on my way to the same holiday destination. (See
Nikos And His Cocktail Shaker – Part 1)
The trip to the airport didn’t help I must admit.

My eldest daughter had very kindly offered to drop us off in the early hours. My immediate reaction was Brilliant. Then I began weighing up the pros and cons as my wife began to change things.

Initially it was a weight off my mind. look at it this way. Now, I don’t have to worry about whether or not to take the car or get a taxi. Do I get a cab and worry that the very chatty driver is fishing to find out how long we are going to be away so he can pop back and break in at his leisure. In a vindictive move, try all my remaining shoes on knowing he has chronic athletes foot, walk round with my spare underpants on his head, and, a particular dread of my wife’s, turn a light on and leave it on(!!)

Or do I drive and leave the car in an airport long-stay car park, then, spend the 2 weeks dealing with an increasingly fevered imagination until I can collect it.

Has some young chap who worked there
A. Damaged it parking it.
B. Damaged it each time he moved it closer to the collection point as my holiday came to an end.
C. Four hours before I was due to arrive back, become disillusioned, decided it was a crap job, taken some entertaining drug, nabbed the first keys he spotted (mine) and fucked off on a high speed race round south Manchester with various body parts dangling off, creating an fabulous trail of sparks that the police helicopter didn’t need thermal imaging to follow.

So, when Em offered to drop us off I was all for it. Until, my wife told her not to collect us at the time we would have left for the airport because she didn’t want her getting up so early. So, where we normally arrive at the airport three hours before we fly, get through security, and just relax for a couple of hours or so until we board, now, we would be a good hour later. I mean, that early arrival is all part of my holiday routine. I like being there so early. I finally feel like I can forget about work. I’m actually on holiday.

When Jane told Emily to pick us up an hour later, then turning and asking me what I thought, well, then I know I’m not really being asked an optional question.

Its like being asked a hypothetical question by your wife. I always weigh up my answer. Ask, if its a trick? Does she want my honest – more importantly I hasten to repeat – hypothetical answer. Of course, she says Yes.

I always get the answer wrong.

I should know better, when her eyes narrowed just before she said Yes. But in this instance, for the sake of my own peace of mind, I felt I had to disagree and try negotiate a better departure time.

“What about just doing what we normally do? Three hours early? Peace of mind. Breakfast! Hooray.”

“Oh no. Think of Emily. She’s doing us a favour. It wouldn’t be fair to make her get out of bed any earlier. She needs her sleep.”

Now I know Em, it wouldn’t be a problem. This was just her mum worrying about her. I shared a glance with Emily and she recognized my discomfort. She immediately offered to come at the time I wanted to leave, bless her, but Jane was determined not to put her out.

To cut it short, it was agreed Emily would collect us later than I wanted to leave but not as late a Jane wanted to depart at.

I like my routine when I go on holiday. Finish work a day or so before. Immediately wind down knowing that’s it for two-and-a half weeks. Pack haphazardly the evening before departure (it drives my wife mad) then do nothing until it’s time to leave and get to the airport three hours before the flight, completely relaxed.

I like to let Jane stress for both of us.

Now, My comfort zone was destroyed.

I was immediately filled with foreboding and faced a battle with  my own form of OCD knowing in my mind  that my pre-set routine for  getting up, dressing in my carefully-selected-for-maximum-travel-comfort holiday outfit, load cases to car, listen to wife check, check,checkcheckcheckcheckcheck passports, boarding tickets, doors, cooker, windows, taps, plug sockets, curtain position – open/closed/partly open – Jesus, it goes on and on. 

I knew I was going to be sat twitching with nervous energy trying to looked relaxed on what was supposed to be the beginning of a relaxing holiday.

As you can imagine, I was up extra early waiting for my daughter to arrive, cases positioned, handles set just-so, poised with sweaty palms, so I could rush forward, grabbing said handles, dash out the open door to the waiting car. Dash back inside, perform a fireman’s lift on my tap-tigtening wife and force her in the car. A quick sprint inside the house again for hand luggage, pulling the door closed as I headed back to the waiting vehicle. In through the open door and pulling away from the kerb before I tugged it shut.

I was at heightened DEFCOM 2 ready to tip into DEFCOM 1.

So. We were due to be collected by 4.20am. And my calm exterior began to unravel at 4.05.

Because, I received a text  at 4.05.


Just left! You excited?! :):)


Don’t text just drive. Yeah really excited. Are you driving now? Don’t stop driving to reply. Just drive. :):):O:D:P

The phone rang 10 minutes later making me jump as I stared out of the window where I was stationed, willing Emily to arrive.


(The exclamation mark sank my hopes further)

“I’ve got a puncture!! The wheels a funny shape!!”

(The wheels a funny shape??)

I must quickly explain my thought process at this point.

I looked at my watch. Calculated what would be quicker. Phoning a taxi right now and seeing how long it would take to arrive, collect and drop us at the airport, and how late we would be. Or, dash to where my eldest daughter was stranded, in the dark, with a flat tyre and struggling to get the nuts off the wheel. Mmmm. What to do. Did I know a good taxi service? I could always order Emily a taxi too. After ours.

Then normality clicked back and I told her I’d be right there. I grabbed the car keys and galloped out shouting up to Jane briefly what was happening and to be ready to leave!

Be calm, I thought, when you get to Emily. This, as I leaned over the steering wheel tipping sixty.

Don’t let her see you stressing. It’ll stress her out more. Lets be nice and calm. Like Clint Eastwood. Icy calm.

While the real me was running round in circles in the privacy of my own mind pulling my hair out wailing:

The flight! The flight! We’re going to miss the flight!! I knew I should have driven! No one fucking listens to me!!!

I spotted Emily hovering in front of her car as I drove towards her on the deserted road. She was hopping anxiously around her disabled vehicle waiting for me. I went past then did a quick U-turn pulling up behind her car. As I jumped out of the car striving to look the personification of Calm, Emily came towards me greeting me with,

“It’s ok Dad – I got the jack set up – the wheels ready to come off!”

She looked at me with those haven’t-I-done-well eyes and made me feel bad all over again. I looked down at the drivers side front wheel and realized it wasn’t just flat, the hub had impacted on something and actually bent. It really was a funny shape. Then I spotted that the wheel was off the ground.

“Well done Em, but we need to loosen the nuts before we jack the car up. Just step off the road chick.”

I bent over to wind the car back down only to discover she had forced the jack under the door and had cranked the seating of the jack into the door itself.

(Be calm)

“Ohohoho. Look Em. You jacked the car door instead of the car. Ahahaha.”

Em walked back round to look.

“Is that the wrong Place?”

(Be calm. Be. Calm.)

“Ah – Yes. Look here?”

I showed her where the jack was forced into the door.

“Just wander over to the pavement Em.”


“Not to worry.” I threw her a smile. “We’ll just lower it back down.”

I attempted to wind the arm of the jack which completely failed to move.

“Is it not going down?” Emily was by my side in the road again.

“No babe. Its a bit stuck.”

I took a ragged breath.

“I’ll just have to use a bit of force. Juststepbackofftheroadqueen.”

My anxiety levels had gone up an all new notch. (Jesus I think I’m getting pains up my arm)


I exerted some considerable force all the time aware of the minutes sliding past.

“Are you sure I really managed to put it in under the door?”

Em queried, back leaning over me.

I gave a final eye-popping wrench at the jack, rapped my knuckles on the floor and deposited skin as I lost my grip, completely failing to move the lever.

I stuck my knuckle in my mouth, tasting my oil covered fingers. Any pretence of calm I was maintaining finally disappeared.

Yes! Yes! You jammedthefuckingjackinthedoor!!!!GETOFFTHEFUCKINGROAD!!!

I did one of those jump-up-turn-round-throw-your-arms-in-the-air maneuvers, that you do when shit really hits the fan. This was followed by a quick goose stepping routine round the middle of the road gesticulating at no-one in particular.

You know the moment?

One of those “We’re-all-fucked-women-and-children-first-my-arse” reactions that occur after you finally realize, your not Cool Hand Luke after all. That moment, when the veneer of calm you’ve been papering over the nerve jangling anxiety that, actually, with every Tick of the clock, is pretty obvious to everyone else who you thought you were kidding but who, were just watching for that wafer thin amount of control to blow away with the gentlest puff of wind.

I’d gone from Clint Eastwood to Frank Spencer.

Then striving for calm, chest heaving with my exertions and seeing Emily looking at me like it was the end of the world, I struggled to think clearly.

The jack. The jack! My jack!! I ran to my car to grab my jack. Sorted! I’ll just jack Em’s car with mine high enough to take the pressure off her jack and remove it. There you go! Some people need to take a chill pill!! Think it through. Problem solved!! That’s what a clear, calm thought process does for you.

I lifted my boot and leaned into the back of the car, pulling up the cover over my spare tyre, with, at this point, considerable urgency. Not seeing it immediately I lifted the spare tyre and fumbled underneath for my jack. This became more frantic as what I blindly felt for was out of reach. The whole thing degenerated again with me ripping out the spare wheel cover, then the spare wheel and feeling round the empty space for what I could plainly see wasn’t there.

No jack.

I think I actually screamed but it came out as a wheezy whistle. Jesus. I needed a paper bag. Better yet an oxygen tank.

I ran back to Emily’s car and turned into Basil Faulty and began kicking the jack, then took to hitting it with the wrench. What I was saying eludes me now. No doubt it was encouraging and colourful.

It suddenly popped free from under the door and I think I whooped a bit. It was a matter of moments to correctly position it, tighten into position, release nuts, jack up remove nuts, change wheel blahdeblah and so on. I didn’t even stop. I grabbed the damaged wheel – and it was knackered, the whole metal rim of the hub was bent in – I dashed to the rear of Em’s car throwing it in. Turning back to Emily ushered to the drivers side striving to come across completely cheerful.

“Okaydokey Em! No problem! In you get! Off we go!”

I sprinted to my car and jumped in, fumbled the key into the ignition and started the engine. I looked over my oil covered hands on the steering wheel to give Emily an encouraging wave, only to see her already accelerating away with a slight sqeal of tyres.

It didn’t take long to get home, rush in and grab the luggage, using the cases like pig boards to guide Jane complaining and still trying to check things as I steered her to Emilys car. Back In, switch the light off and dash back to the waiting vehicle, slamming the door behind me. I never expected to feel G-force in a Corsa but was thrown back in the seat as Emily launched us up the road before the car door was closed behind me.

“I’m so sorry! I can’t believe this has happened!”

Was all Em could utter for the first five minutes as she gripped the steering wheel, trying to focus on her driving but continuously turning to me in the front seat and looking at Jane in the mirror. In the end I had to tell her to stop when other reassurances didn’t help, concerned after all this she would kill me before I even got to the airport. I have to hold my hands up though, my heightened stress levels hadn’t helped Emily and may have contributed to Emily feeling so bad. I felt incredibly guilty.

But not enough to worry about it too much at the moment. We still had a plain to catch.

“No problem Em! Don’t worry about it! we’ll be fine!”

I gave a slightly manic laugh.

“I’m sure we’ll get there no problem. We should have almost an hour and three quarters to get through security. No worries! Please. Just look at the road and not me?”

We arrived at Terminal 2 relieved just to actually be there. We gave hurried hugs, trying to reassure Emily in a distracted way to be careful driving home. Then, waved her off as we crossed to the terminal entrance.

We abruptly stopped as we walked through the automatic doors. The queue to check in desk snaked, zig-zagging across the floor and off down a corridor heading off to Terminal 1.


This was just the icing on the cake.

I felt my shoulders completely drop.

I looked at Jane. Nothing else for it. Deep breath.

We rushed off to find the end of the queue. Just in case someone got there before us and made it longer.. We now had Ninety minutes to get through security.

Surely. Nothing else could go wrong..

Nikos and His Cocktail Shaker…Part one..

Skiaphos 2014 160

Its amazing just how quickly something can become a distant memory when you actually return from a great experience. It seemed but moments ago that I was floating on the edge of the sea on Troulos beach in Skiathos, making the most of my final opportunity to soak up the view before I had to return to my accommodation and pack.

Now, slightly more than a week later, I was sat with a nurse who was fiddling with a needle in my arm, trying to draw blood.

This was my first visit to donate blood, having accompanied my wife several times just to keep her company. I had never had any inclination to donate mainly out of laziness I suppose. I think my wife believed that when I passed out in hospital after knee surgery, it had had a lasting effect.

But I have to admit needles don’t bother me, its the effort involved in donating that does. (And that’s bad, considering I’d be lay down through-out with a cup of tea and all you can eat biscuit pile to go at upon completion)

There’ll be women out there who will recognize immediately the syndrome. It’s the terrible “I’m a man” malady.

In an effort at avoiding possible life-threatening energy loss, I would reason it out with Jane whenever she tried to encourage me to donate.

“I can’t. Its because I’m special Jane. My blood is important.”

Why? Whys it so important?”

“Because its mine. (Der) Its probably rare. I’m probably one of those whaddya call it? Rare blood groups, like a Z or something.”

What are you talking about you idiot? There isn’t a Z blood group. You don’t know what blood group you are!!! Your just lazy! Your probably the most common, common blood group – O positive! Anyway if its rare, you should donate!”

“All the more reason to keep hold of it Jane. What if there’s only two of us with a Z blood group? What if they won’t donate theirs? What if they won’t share?? I’ll bet he’ll be happy to take mine though! I’m not giving some bastard all my blood if he won’t give me any of his! I need all I can get for Christ’s sake! I can’t just be handing it out willy-nilly!!!”

Jane’s snort of disgust would be the end of the conversation.

As it was, I had years ago committed myself to The Anthony Nolan trust after hearing about a young child at my sons school who was suffering from Fanconi’s Anaemia – A genetic disorder that tends to lead to suffers developing cancer, often acute myelogenous leukemia, 90% leading to bone marrow failure – she was 5 and they were searching for possible matches in order to help her.

What would you do?

I was happy to go along with everyone else and give blood samples and register with the trust, in order to give this child an opportunity at a possible cure. After all, I only had to look at my own 3 young children and imagine being in the position that this child’s parents found themselves in. As it was I wasn’t a match. Fortunately though, they did eventually find one and last I heard she was recovering after a successful bone marrow transplant.

After that I never thought anything of it. I think deep down the thought of someone drilling away at me for marrow wasn’t over appealing, and in some ways I was relieved to forget about it. So it was with some surprise I received a letter from the trust telling me I was a possible match for some poor bugger.

I went through the pro’s and cons involved in the procedure and I have to say, the last thing I had expected (and secretly fervently hoped I would never be) was to be discovered as a match for someone suffering with such a serious disease.

It meant a couple of days away in London where I would – most likely – be attached to a machine that would draw Stem Cells from my blood to be donated to the recipient. The other procedure would mean being anaesthetized while they drew marrow from me.

What finally sold it for me was I would be in a nice hotel and be paid to do it.


Until I stopped fooling around and seriously thought about the implications for the desperate person hanging on at the other side of this requirement.

I had to say yes. There was no other option. It was a case of waiting to see if they needed me after I sent confirmation samples of blood off.

After some weeks the answer came back as a “thank you but you’re no longer required”.

I have to admit I was relieved. I also have to admit I spent a good while thinking about the person who had needed the donation.

See, I never discovered if they found a donor for this person so I don’t know if they survived. I don’t know how old they were, or whether they were a man or a woman or a child. But I think the implications of what I was asked to donate, the implications it meant to some desperate anonymous life, finally hit home.

It wasn’t just stem cells, or marrow that you donate to the trust.

It was a chance at staying alive for the person who needs it.

Finding out it was no longer required and not knowing if they had found someone more suitable to donate or whether the person who needed it survived or not, touched a nerve. It was the anonymity I think, that did it.

Knowing that there was someone out there seriously suffering while I and most of the population went about our business without that dread and worry hanging over our lives. What it meant to those families supporting this person, completely powerless to do anything about their illness unless a donor could be found. If it was a child? A wife or a Husband? A brother, a sister, a father a mother..?

Simply forced to watch them travel that road and support them along it until they received the help they required.

Or they didn’t.

Implications that some unknowing healthy person out there could change. For someone.

Anyway, it was due to this that I finally decided to donate blood. And had the conversation with Jane about how special I must be…

We had just returned from our first holiday abroad in 6 years. And I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some three weeks prior to sitting where I was now I was preparing to journey to Greece. Skiathos. A small, very green Island in the Aegean sea. Its some 7 miles long and 4 miles wide and its quiet. Its my third visit and the peace and quiet never fails to envelope me.

Iphone Skiaphos 009

We had spent a busy weekend before travelling visiting both our daughters, Emily and Holly before we went away. Both were at university at either side of the country so it meant a bit of travelling on a bank holiday weekend. We wanted to make sure we spent some time with them before we went, making sure they were both ok and see if either could pop home at some point and check up on Callum.

Also, the reasoning being that if the plane went down at least they both got a hug and a sandwich before we went, and would be aware that Cal was in charge of Ben the dog at home, and he may need feeding by then..

We had had some reservations going, as it meant our first holiday away alone would mean leaving our son Callum home-alone. Now Cal is 17, almost 18, but I think him cooking anything is a recently acquired ability that has plenty of room for improvement. Walking into waves of heat in a swelteringly hot kitchen, with the oxygen all but gone, to find the oven still on and the gas on the hob in the process of melting the extractor, created some reservations.

Him also asking if the dog needed feeding “Everyday?” and being mildly surprised to find this was the case, didn’t inspire confidence

So I had taken to trying to show him how to cook some meals, just so that I would know he would eat something reasonably healthy. And not move into a Pizza shop.

I prepared a Bolognese sauce for him, reasoning that him cooking the spaghetti wasn’t much of an ask and would encourage him to see how easy it would be to prepare something nourishing.

“Ok with this Cal?”

“Yep no problem dad.”

“Spaghetti in pan, add hot water….”

“Dad. I’m not an idiot.”

Fair play son, I thought, and left him to it.

Sat in the other room, I became aware of some frenzied activity coming from the kitchen, a clatter and a banging I wouldn’t normally associate with cooking spaghetti. I mean, Spaghetti in pan, add hot water, boil, drain…How hard can it be? But I was still hesitant about intruding, thinking he just needed the opportunity to organize himself. Lets face it, The sauce was done, ready and waiting, all he had to do was cook the spaghetti.

Finally he was finished and I edged into the kitchen.

“Ok Cal?”

“Yeah, yeah. Fine Dad.”

“Lets see it then?”

He edged over to quickly flourish the plate then began to turn away. I caught a glimpse of a mountain of pure sauce and briefly noticed that poking from under it, were an alarming number blackened, charcoal like strands.

“Jesus Cal! You only had to boil the spaghetti! How did you burn it??”

“It wasn’t my fault! The pan was too small!”

“Too small! It was the biggest bloody pan! Did you leave the spaghetti hanging out? You bloody did didn’t you!”

It didn’t occur to him that the gas didn’t need to be on full, nor that the spaghetti hanging over the lip of the pan ready for the hot water, needed to be encouraged to fold into the pot as he added it. Instead he poured the water in, turned the gas up full, then stood back and began sorting his plate out.

The spaghetti, left unattended, did fold over, over the lip of the pan where it was licked by the flames from the high gas. Finally, over the shoulder of Gordon Ramsay – picking out his favourate fork, it caught fire and went up like so many fuses.. Eventually the smoke or the smell caught his attention. The clatter and banging had been him trying to run the tap on a Tee towel so he could flog the flames out.

He had then broken off the really badly burnt strands and tried to stretch the remainder into a meal.

I had done everything bar stand there and watch it boil. I had Loaded the actual amount of spaghetti in the pan, boiled the water in the kettle, and left him with simple, step-by-step cooking instructions. I was left with the dreadful realization that he was going to be home alone for 2 weeks fending for himself.

Jesus. He was going to burn the fucking house down and kill the dog.

We arrived at the airport ready to forget about everything and just enjoy our break alone. 2 weeks stress-free. Doing, what-ever we wanted to. It had been a long time coming and we were both determined to make the most of it.

The best start to my holiday has always been – for me- arriving early at the airport and getting rid of our bags and just relaxing in the knowledge that we were on our way. We had worked our way through the airport in a snaking queue that I hadn’t encountered before. It led from check-in to security where our hand luggage would be checked prior to entering the departure lounge and duty free area. It was just before we reached the security area that a dawning realization hit me.

I tried to quietly get Jane’s attention before we moved forward and placed our bags on the conveyor belt that would draw our hand luggage into the X-ray machine. Mumbling out of the side of my mouth,

“Jane. Jane!”


I’ve got a knife in my bag!”

“What! What are you doing with a knife here?? Who carries a bloody knife in an airport!!!”

“I’ll say its a bottle opener! I have a bottle opener in there too!”

A fucking bottle opener??? Why have you brought a knife you idiot????”

Its only a little knife!!!”

Not the best answer you may agree. But it was. A little knife. A pen-knife in fact. It was the knife I peeled my apple with everyday. But lets face it, in this climate, you’re not going to do yourself any favours by flourishing a blade – big or small – at an airport.

And here I was, stood looking apprehensively at the serious faces of security, their eyes scanning people as they approached the conveyor belt, each person placing a bag on the belt to be x-rayed, and emptying pockets and removing hats and belts. Whilst security hovered, eagle-eyed, looking for potential problems. Just waiting for an alarm to go off so they could leap into action and quietly taser and frog march someone off to a subterranean room where they would be professionally beaten…

In this case me, with my shorts round my ankles, because another thing had occurred to me to heighten my stress levels to nails-drawn-across-blackboard levels.

I was wearing a pair of favourate shorts. The only problem being with them was they had metal buttons. These continuously sheered off and had to be re-sewn on. I had lost the top button from the shorts and had asked Jane a couple of days earlier to sew it back on for me and she had forgotten. So I removed the belt and the shorts automatically began to fall down and I was left clutching them to my waist as I waited to place my bag on the conveyor belt and for my knife to be spotted.

I knew I would be seized, and undoubtedly thrashed in a tiny room until I confessed.

And I would have.

To anything.

And believe me I’d have sold my mother down the river on the way to that subterranean room, never mind admit to the knife. She has no idea how close she came to having MI5 kicking her back door in and hauling her off some where. These people had no idea how much information they would have had out of me over the first 20 feet of assisted shuffled steps. I’d have leaked like a sprinkler, I’d have dropped anyone in it as long as it wasn’t me that ended up in chokey…

I’m too pretty for jail.

So I walked through trying to be pleasant and smiley, hoping I wouldn’t be asked any questions or be searched. Because if I was, I would undoubtedly crack and say the first, most stupid thing that came to mind.

“Ahahaha. I’m not a bloody terrorist you know! I haven’t got a bomb under my jumper! I’ve only got a knife..”

My God, this wasn’t going to end well at all.

Jane obviously thought the same thing because as the guard beckoned me forward, she skipped past me to place her bag on the conveyor belt and hissed,

“Just shut up. They may not notice it. Ican’tbelieveyoubroughtabloodyknife!!!”

I was left goggling at her back as she stepped away and abandoned me, creating some distance between herself and me. It was obvious she didn’t want to impede the security guards when they realized I was armed and charged in to take me down.

My turn followed and I stepped forward to place my bag on the belt, watching it head into the X-ray machine, all the while hanging onto my shorts..

I looked at Jane and mouthed,

My pants are falling down

Jane, further along the conveyor belt, by now removing her bag, just rolled her eyes and visibly stepped further away, then turned to watch with interest.

My imagination was running away with me. All I could picture was myself being restrained with my shorts round my ankles, with security shouting,

“He’s tried to hide it up his arse! Get the gloves on!!”


My wife having created her bubble of safety, was obviously rehearsing expressions and reply’s. I believe she was prepared to be tearful and state she was forced along at knife-point and could they please save her from the bad man….

I moved through to wait for my bag to come out of the machine and make its way towards my waiting arms. Which it did and just as I reached for it, it slid sideways and down another shoot to a waiting security guard, who beckoned me around everybody else who had successfully navigated their way past the X-ray machine. Have you ever noticed how quickly you become a point of interest to all those who are safely through? I approached her side trying to act like this happened everyday.

Sweat was beading my brow at this point and I was absently wondering if she’d let me remove my inhaler and have a blast on it, letting her know I was asthmatic. My reasoning being she may possible go more gently with her approach before slapping the cuffs on and knocking the crap out of me.

Instead she greeted me with a bright and airy,

“Hello sir! Is this your bag? Is there anything in there that you want to disclose to me?”

“Yes! Yes I do!! I have a knife! Its only a little knife for peeling apples! I’m not going to stab you!! My pants are falling down!! Please God don’t stick anything up my bum!!! There’s nothing up there!! I had a camera up it once! A nurse said it was like a flute!! My wife knew I had the knife!! She’s over there!!!”

Fuck it. If I was going down I’d take Jane with me.

That was the initial jumble of words ready to spill from my mouth. But as she asked me so gently and apologetically, it took the wind from my sails somewhat. Instead I said,

“I have to say, I think my penknife is in there. I’m so sorry I forgot to remove it. I use it at work for peeling my apple everyday!”

(Nudge nudge)

I had Jane poking me, trying to shut me up before my mouth completely ran away with me.

“Ok Sir that’s fine, but I’m really sorry I’m going to have to remove it. You can’t travel on board with this in your bag I’m afraid.”

She said looking up at me.

“What? Is that it? Jesus take the bloody thing! That’s Fine!! Thank you – your so kind…”

(Nudge nudge nudge)

“Phew. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll buy one over there. Not that I’ll bring it back mind!!”


“…ah..yes.. ok I’ll just move on then..?”

And finally we made it through to the departure lounge.

Next step, after Jane finished telling me off, all I had to do was get on the plane, fly 4 hours and land at the incredibly short run-way that was Skiathos airport..