No, really. Don’t get me started.
What’s the picture?
Well OK, you asked for it.
It’s an allen key (not a crowbar, in case you were wondering about the scale of the image). It is about 4cm long and until very recently – about an hour ago in fact – it lived in a small compartment in my roll-along briefcase. Occasionally it would come out of hiding to tighten the wheel bearings on the briefcase and then return to its familiar home. It is a modest and retiring creature, completely unaware that it is in fact a dangerous weapon.
Fortunately for me and my fellow passengers now flying at 35,000 feet above the earth on a BmiBaby flight from Birmingham to Malaga, its lethal nature was recognised in seconds by the eagle-eyed security operative on the X-Ray machine in Departures.
“It’s a tool, sir. You can’t take tools onto the plane.”
“Really,” I replied. “In what way does this particular tool constitute a danger?”
“It’s a tool. No tools.”
“But this useful little implement has lived in my briefcase for years. It has been on many aeroplanes. It has travelled the globe. Without incident so far as I am aware.”
It was hopeless. My pleas not to be separated from my little friend fell on deaf ears. But as I took my seat on the aeroplane, I consoled myself with the grateful realisation that the security operative had saved me from my baser nature. I had forgotten that the allen key was in the bag, but once I knew it was lurking there, he was of course quite right to remove it from my possession.
When you come to think of it, I might easily, in a murderous rage at having to pay £2.50 for paper cup half full of a luke warm liquid that could not even pass for tea in a coffee competition, have forced open the window, reached out and unscrewed the wing.
I might have placed it in the aisle as a barricade and taken a member of the cabin crew hostage behind it. I might have placed it in my open palm and terrified the passengers by showing them that I was armed. I might have hurled it across the cabin, thus creating a severe imbalance in the loading of the plane and caused it to veer into a mountain. Oh yes, its potential for causing death and destruction was nearly limitless.
But what’s this? As I write these very words, there is an announcement over the public address sytem: the pilot’s prosthetic limbs have loosened and fallen off in the recent turbulence; he cannot fly the plane; does anyone have an allen key with them with which to screw the limbs back on and save the day?
I summon the cabin attendant. “I did have one,” I say. “But an eager and efficient security operative confiscated it at the airport on the grounds of safety.”
The attendant laughs wryly. “How ironic.”
“Yes. Isn’t it?” I reply as we plummet towards the ground. “Once the black box has been recovered and they listen to the cockpit recording asking for an allen key the poor man will be writing reports for days. But I expect he will quite enjoy that.”
Under the circumstances, I am surprised that my final thoughts are so benign. Of course he would enjoy writing the reports. That sort of half-assed, pettifogging, literal-minded, dim-witted, jobsworth generally does.