Take Me To Your Leader Writer

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...has written more leaders (newspaper editorials) than anyone alive or dead, an honour still to be recognised by the Guiness Book of Records or the Nobel judges. I have produced them for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday People, the Evening Post (Hemel Hempstead), the Caithness Courier and the Student (Edinburgh). My creed is: Have opinions, Will travel.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Horseradish, runner-bean chutney and madness

When we arrived at 5am at Gatwick airport on our way to spend a week with our Italian friends Clare and Mario, I had taken a few little gifts for them. There were jars of hot horseradish sauce, runner-bean chutney and Geeta's mango chutney, all things which they love but can't buy in the Umbrian supermarkets.
These innocent delicacies lasted as far as the security screening. I had made the mistake of putting them in hand luggage and was pulled aside and asked to open my bag. That makes you feel guilty for a start, as if you have somehow inadvertently packed a kilo of cocaine. So when the jars were produced in front of me, I said: "Yes?" I wasn't going to deny they were mine.
But they weren't allowed on board. Why? They were paste, apparently, so couldn't be carried in hand luggage. I asked if the security guard thought I would attack the pilot with the horseradish. It was, after all, hot.
It didn't much matter to me that the jars were all confiscated - I hope the security people enjoyed them with their roast beef (actually I don't - I would be delighted if they choked on them). But the episode highlights the lunatic way in which checks are carried out at airports.
Which is why today I found myself doing something I never thought I would - applauding the chairman of British Airways, who has criticised the supidity of airport security checks.
I clearly wasn't going to blow up or hijack the plane with my runner-bean chutney. And no one will convince me that if terrorists are really determined to attack a flight they won't find a way to do it that doesn't involve secreting explosives in a jar of horseradish sauce.
I now use trains for domestic destinations as well as trips to Brussels because I can't be bothered with the security hassle.
The terrorists have won by changing the way we live. Sensible security is inevitable but the authorities have cravenly given in to make air travel an unpleasant obstacle course of belt and shoe removal in the spurious name of protecting us.

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