Friday, 7 December 2007

On security and the photographer

Having a large white lens on one´s camera always seems to attract attention. Usually the wrong kind. Security guards really don´t like them for some reason. So I was a tad nervous about getting through Heathrow airport with two in my hand luggage. They were more concerned that I was also carring a tiny plastic bag which broke the "one bag rule". Fortunely this was easily resolved by putting the apple it contained in one coat pocket and the danish pastry in the other!

Charles de Gaule was a different story. Security there was a bit belligerent. The opening gambit was "You have a knife!" which of course I didn´t. That was before they´d even scanned annything. As soon I revealed I was carrying camera gear my rucksack had to be completely unpacked and each item passed through individually. I also had to remove my shoes and my belt. After scanning it all they stood and watched me carefully repack the rucksack before escorting me to a desk not five paces away.Here they made me unpack the rucksack again. Each item was checked by hand. There was a long debate in French which I took from the body language to be about whether or not the plates I have on my lenses constitute a lethal weapon. These, by the way, are beautifully-machined pieces of metal used to slide the lens quickly on and off a tripod head. They are blunter than the average baguette.

After that, without as much as a "by your leave", one of them picked up the rucksack - with my camera now back in it - and walked off with it. Naturally I was bit bothered by this. It turned out they just wanted to rescan it, because the hand search had not shown up everything they thought they´d seen on the x-ray. They just didn´t feel the need to tell me that.

After another long debate between themselves, I was finally allowed through. I still can´t decide whether they were genuinely concerned or whether it was just a slow evening and they were a bit bored.

The flight was uneventful. If I had been so inclined I could have inflicted serious bodily harm with the stale in-flight bread rolls. There was a beautiful sunrise over Brazil, and some stunning views of the Andes, and I´m now safely at my hotel in Chile. Tomorrow morning I fly on to the Falklands. Hurrah!


  1. Ah the French - they just are just who they are... the shoes and belt is standard procedure but the rest - well that's them conforming to stereotype...

    Hope the flight to the Falklands goes well. Thanks for the card and calender...

  2. Hope you are having fun.
    Thought you may like this link


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