Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Yemen - Shoppers, Sana'a souk, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Sorry, Mar, but I am going to have another go...

This morning I poured the contents of a litre bottle of Gordons Gin down the toilet (and a few other places I should not mention). I had bought this bottle a few hours earlier in complete innocence in Bahrain, as it was cheap and I know how much Fred likes his gin and tonics.

He also likes his Antaeus aftershave and I was about to buy a bottle of this, which was also quite cheap, when the sales lady warned me that I might have problems taking it with me out of London, and I was reminded to the ridiculous regulations regarding carrying liquid substances on board planes leaving (not going to, but leaving) the UK. Toothpaste, aftershaves, bottles of water, jars of jam and so on are all being regulated, after a plot to blow up a number of planes leaving the UK was discovered sometime in the summer.

There were long queues to transfer to connecting flights as extra staff were laid on the explain the regulations and make sure that nothng less than solid was not taken on baord unless it was in an unopened container and was in a small plastic bag.

I was thinking, what about my suty free? I know they sell it as Heathrow, presumably to people leaving the UK, so what sort of exception would there be for this? Well, it turns out that duty free is allowed, as long as the bottle has not been opened, that you can prove that you bought it in the previous 24 hours..... so what would be the catch? Well, teh catch is that it is OK to bring duty free on baord so long as you have travelled on a European airline. I came on Gulf Air, which disqualified me, yet if I ahd been on the British Airways flight twenty minutes earlier, it would have been OK to take the same bottle of gin with me. Incredible.

As I said, it was cheap and I resigned myself to pouring the stuff waway, and stopping the airport staff from taking it home with them, but there were a couple of young French chaps ahead of me. Somehow they ahd got past the first level of control and I explained what had happened to me and the mindless way they had thought up the rules. These lads had about four bottle sof what looked like expensive liquor on them, and surely enough their bags were stopped and a long conversation ensued, then end of which I did not stay to watch, but which would have bene totally predictable, a victory for the mindless bureaucrats.

What makes this all seem so incongruous however, is not the silly overreaction of the British government, for whatever reason, no doubt tied into the American War on Terror, but the fact that while all this was going on, the big news of the day was the accusation in the press that a suspected murder of a police woman had left the country and passed through airport immigration checks dressed as an Arab woman in a veil.

Even in Yemen, they seemed to be checking evry woman in a veil, albeit in a separate room away from the gaze of men. How could this not be the case in the UK? Incompetence, pure and simple.


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