Dom Joly: Strip me naked and strap me to a metal seat

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The Independent Online

So here we go again. I'm flying days after another major terrorist alert. At least it's from Canada back to the UK as opposed to the hell that is travelling anywhere in and out of the States. Canadian airport security are generally recognisable as human beings and don't seem to feel that a smile and a little politeness are any hindrance to their effectiveness as spotters of explosive-laden loonies.

Every time I fly during a "level critical" I can't help noticing that all my fellow passengers look like fully paid-up members of the Taliban. (I'm sure it's akin to the pregnancy syndrome where young women, worried about being up the duff, suddenly see nothing but mothers clasping infants everywhere they look.) As I queued in the "special" three-hour line for people travelling to London, I seemed to be the only person not sporting the Cat Stevens look.

Of course, they're all feeling very self-conscious and trying to look as unthreatening as possible - everyone laughing and chatting slightly too loudly - while I pretend that I'm not in the slightest bit worried that Osama bin Laden's doppelganger is sitting right next to me, and end up being overly chatty to him while trying to get a peek into his bag.

With the new scare being over fluids, the uniformed Nazis that patrol US airports will by now have been informed that the human body is 90 per cent water, and that spells trouble. Soon they're bound to have some machine that drains all the fluid out of you on departure and we'll have to lie rigid on the floor of cargo planes like over-dried prunes. Stacey had a "julienner" taken off her at security in Miami. She'd been given it as a farewell gift by a culinary-minded friend. It's like a potato peeler, but a tad wider and used to julienne vegetables into thin strips. Presumably the fear was that she'd stand up, mid flight, and demand that we fly into the White House or else the captain would be very slowly and evenly cut into thin strips ready for shallow frying.

The appalling thing is that they always seem to be reacting to the latest hare-brained scheme rather than trying to anticipate new ones. Every day, millions of travellers to the US are forced to remove their shoes at airports in some peculiar homage to the solitary British shoe-bomber, Richard Reid, a man so dumb that he was unable to light a match.

My favourite security-related airport scam is one I've written about before that exists at Geneva. Once through passport control, the bored traveller is inexorably drawn to the enormous Swiss Army Knife shop in the middle of the terminal. Having chosen one, you proceed to your gate where a guard takes the knife off you and places it and all the others in an enormous bin, ready to be taken straight back to the store to be resold again and again. I'm of Swiss origin and can only applaud them finding a clever new money-making scheme, now their mountains are melting and all the Jewish gold has dried up.

If things carry on this way then flights will soon consist of us being stripped naked and shackled to bare metal seats (cushions are flammable) with our luggage flown out on a separate airplane. There actually is an airline in the United States that currently does just this - it's called Con Air, and it transports convicts around the country. A canny investor might think about buying some share options.

What puzzles me is why the "terrorists" still target that most over-protected of targets, the civil airline. What happened to the idea of renting a flat in an enormous high-rise, filling it with explosives and then - "kaboom" - the whole thing comes down like a house of cards? Much more efficient and feasible if you ask me, but what do I know?

It's time to take a leaf out of David Bowie's book and only take trains and ships everywhere. I quite fancy a go on the QE2. I wonder if I'd get to sit at the captain's table. I could always use the "julienner" to "persuade" him. I knew it would have its uses.

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