IT’s WHAT I AM
Those who know me know that I can at times see humour in some odd settings. Those who were taught by me may remember that it worked its way into my classroom setting on a regular basis. It also plays a part, if and when I feel it to be appropriate, in sessions with clients, especially during my hypnobirthing classes, often to put dads at their ease when I begin mentioning such things as vaginas!
However, there are few ‘comedians’ who encourage me to raise more than a brief smile. The exception being Tim Minchin and the late Victoria Wood.
Whilst the title may sound like the introduction to a heavy piece, it is just the opposite. The alarm bells featured, though genuine, were the catalyst for many chuckles both at the time and later over a cuppa or the odd glass of wine.
Have you ever followed someone in the security queue at an airport who holds up said queue as their goods and chattels lead to action on the other side of the conveyor belt? If you have, chances are it could have been me causing the mayhem.
Let me say that I never set out to do so on purpose. Many moons ago, we would go out to Spain for Christmas. As Christmas isn’t Christmas for me without a home-made cake, this was always included in our hand luggage. My sons used to love seeing it as it passed through the scanner – you could almost count the individual currants and sultanas. No questions asked, though possibly a few eyebrows raised.
However, airline security has obviously tightened. I am grateful for that, though saddened for the necessity. On a visit to Hong Kong for Christmas, it was a case of have cake, will travel, though I hadn’t had time to decorate it. Therefore, included in my bag was a pack of ready-made icing and one of ready-made marzipan. Sorry Mum, gone are my days of spending ages making my own! I had zigged and zagged at some ungodly hour at the airport wending my way to the security check. To be greeted by a stony faced man asking what was in the package. I, in all innocence, told him it was marzipan and of course threw in the story of my son loving my home-made Christmas cake. He was not impressed and asked me to unpack my bag. Of course, the packet was at the bottom, so out came my spare pair of pants (well, it is a long flight!), my flight socks etc etc . Eventually to have the packet of marzipan placed on top. This seemed to satisfy the security guy as he explained that it looks on his screen just the same as the explosive, semtex. Good to feel trusted, but what I didn’t understand is why, when he saw a packet, he didn’t consider that if I was a bomber that I could well have used an innocent wrapper to wrap up explosives? I decided it was probably wisest to not ask him about this, rather I grabbed my things, quickly rammed them into my bag whilst trying to escape prying eyes. A good theory. However, remember that spare pair of pants – sadly, they seemingly evaded being flung into my bag. The result – a very red-faced me turning to a shouted ‘Madame – you’ve left something’. Oh how I wished at that moment that they had been a tiny, pretty, lacy thong instead of my utilitarian M&S Bridget’s!
Obviously, security has tightened even more so. I had a message earlier from he who was flying home from a visit a few weeks ago. His hand luggage including a mazripanned, iced Christmas cake. It was safely wrapped, tucked into a box and nestled amongst (clean) socks. Not only did he have to get it out, but it was also swabbed for explosives. All I can say is it’s a good job they didn’t swab for alcohol content! Could have put his duty free allowance over the top!
NON-CAKE RELATED AIRPORT HAPPENINGS
There have been beads that set off security concerns, used tissues jammed up my sleeve, that did the same and then there was me, myself too.
My friend had sailed through the archway at security and was collecting her bag. My turn – and then beeps were beeping. A female officer came and did a manual check. Back through the arch and more beeps. She then used a hand held scanner – got it in one – beeps at several different parts of my body. So into one of the enclosures, my bag, coat etc being in one next to me. I had to strip to bra and pants. My friend was allowed nowhere near. The officer then began swabbing me, though wouldn’t say what she was swabbing me for. Presume explosives. Swab into machine – more beeps. More checking with hand held scanner. More swabbing. It was at this point that the security person’s sense of humour clicked in and she admitted that she had no idea what was going on. I was asking if she thought I was a drugs mule – but surely that would have been coming in to UK, not leaving. She conferred with a couple of colleagues and I was sent on my way with a wave and a grin and a suggestion that I had duffed up their systems! Until writing this, I hadn’t connected it with the fact that I haven’t flown since!!
NON-AIRPORT RELATED HAPPENINGS
Not all of my bell ringing moments have been confined to airports!
Way back when computers in classrooms were of the BBC variety, I was on duty in a primary school over in Lincolnshire one wet play time. I was doing the circuit of the classrooms whilst the rest of the staff had their well-earned cuppas in the staff room. As I approached one classroom, I could hear a loud buzzing noise. I leapt into ‘save the children’ mode and told them to go out and line up on the playground in their well-rehearsed fire drill. I rushed round the remaining classrooms, including the littlies and the classroom assistant over-seeing their play time. No questions asked. I was so proud that everyone exited so well and lined up in the classes in the pouring rain. What did surprise me though was that the rest of the staff weren’t there and neither was the secretary with the class registers. Instead, when I turned towards the staff room, everyone was at the window with ‘What the hell is she doing?’ sort of looks on their faces.
The Head arrived on the playground at about the same time that the penny dropped for me – I couldn’t hear the fire alarm bell on the playground. I had clicked into my ‘woman on a mission to get everyone to safety’ mode and tunnel vision – or hearing –had ruled. Fortunately, the Head was chuckling when he asked what had led me to evacuate the school on a yucky, wet day that even he would not have chosen practise drill. I explained as the rest of the staff came out to collect their classes of now somewhat soggy children. We went to the classroom that had been the point at which the evacuation had begun – and yes, there was still a ringing in there. It was not, however, the fire alarm, rather one of those BBC computers which had become jammed – and the buzzing noise it was making was made much louder and more demanding to be heard by the window it was touching as well as a seemingly very safety-conscious teacher. The quick press of a button and silence descended – well, apart from the very much over-excited buzz of the children that is! Needless to say, this was an event of which I was reminded when I left the school.
Then we have -
THE ERRANT ‘CAR ALARM’
I was on my way to bed one night when I heard a car alarm. A moment later, the realisation that it was pretty damn close. I came back down the stairs, grabbed the garage and car keys and went to investigate. Yes, it certainly was my car, though it didn’t cross my mind that I had had to unlock the garage door, so nobody could have been tampering with the car.
I unlocked the car and the beeps continued. I searched for a switch to switch off the beeps. I had had the car for some years and I admit that I had not noticed a switch for this purpose. It must be under the facia panel – no such luck, though I did pop the bonnet as the pull for this was located there. Then another kerching moment – my car is a basic model and doesn’t boast the likes of an alarm system. Whoops. So what on earth was causing the beeping noise – I grabbed a torch and zeroed in on the horn which certainly was beeping. The reason – the battery above the horn had developed a leak and the regular dripping of the acid onto the horn was the guilty party. Sherlock had solved the mystery. I removed the battery and wiped the horn so that I could get a good night’s sleep before I called for a lift from a friend to go buy a new battery next morning!
Then there was -
ME VERSUS THE USA AIR FORCE
Well, two men with guns and a big dog! But, enough to make me behave when we arrived at an American base in UK to sell my ex’s aircraft prints and paintings. As ever, we were late to arrive as this was a task carried out after work and school had finished for the day. The event was in one of the huge hangars at a time of high alert for US troops. In fact, we had half expected the event would be cancelled. We arrived with our caravan in tow. Prints and cardboard tubes were piled on the seats. In the floor space, slotted in through the opening back window were our very Heath Robinson stands. We needed to navigate between the already set up stands of porcelain dolls, small English cottages, glassware etc and their audibly tutting owners.
BUT, we were halted by the afore mentioned men and dog. Now, I love animals but I am sure that this dog was very much giving me the evils. We piled out of the car – the boys being rather excited by the presence of the guns, whilst I kept a wary eye on the dog. I explained the need to take the caravan into the hangar, but with every few words interspersed with a ‘Maam’, I was told that that would only happen if the dog went through it first. I opened the door – and the look on their faces when they saw the mayhem within was priceless as much had slipped on the long journey south. I felt it necessary to point out that a cupboard contained our food, which included a home-made meat pie for after we had set up shop. ‘Maam the dog only responds to explosives’ I was told in no uncertain terms as said dog struggled to balance on the stands. Yes – you’re there ahead of me – it started to bark as it stood glaring at the cupboard door.
Give them their due, as they too navigated the stands to open the door to reveal the meat pie, they neither prodded nor poked it though they did say that that was the first time that that had ever happened. Obviously a good old home-made English meat pie was too much for even the most well-trained American dog to resist!
I hope that your Christmas is a happy one and your new year one that is free of alarm bells of any variety. I am taking a break until the festivities are over, the festive bells quietened and the decorations packed away for another year. Thank you for reading my blogs. It is much appreciated.
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