Saturday, August 12, 2006

Back again

Back from Turkey having completely changed colour. Body darker, hair lighter, face rainbowed blue purple greeny-yellow (with freckles) due to a thumping black eye after being smashed on the head and rolled by a bizarre series of freak waves. Yes, in the Med. J was scraped and flipped over as well, but as he is 6'2 and I am 5'6 I came off worse. Went to hospital in ambulance with suspected fractured skull and broken shoulder having staggered bleeding from the surf as Turkish and English people on the beach rushed towards me like a scene from international Baywatch but all is well, just a lot of cuts and bruises and swelling. I am clearly quite hard to kill. And I still have five lives left.

Anyway,Turkey was great, chilled out, ate a lot of fish, and it was wonderful to see people I love. Back to find The War Against Terror ( T.W.A.T) has gone up several gears. Which is handy for the papers who were struggling to fill pages with with Big Brother evictees, Colleen's holiday stomach, why Pauline Fowler REALLY left Eastenders, and erm, the thousands disposessed and hurt/killed by bombs in the Middle East. Handy too, for Dr. John Reid , who gets to make a series of jaw-jutting announcements and shorten the odds on his being the PM's annointed successor by appearing on Sky every 3 minutes, whilst Blair in Barbados fiddles with copyright law issues for elderly popstar landlords and Cherie, presumably, burns.

The funny thing is, that liquid explosives are nothing new and if airport security have only just cottoned onto this, despite 9/11, then I'm duly flabbergasted. I'm also a bit surprised by all the new passenger security demands ( everything in clear plastic bags, no hand luggage, no Irn-bru/hair-gel/i-pods etc, which begs the question as to how on earth we are supposed to amuse ourselves if we can't burp our way through sinister-tasting pop/sculpt interesting quiffs/listen to M-People tracks whilst airborne. And I don't envy parents trying to amuse their nippers with a credit card, bunch of keys and packet of tampons for the duration of a transatlantic flight). It seems a tad..over-dramatic.

Before I flew to Turkey, well before this Top Breaking Terror News Terror Plot Foiled Terror Alert, all my luggage was x-rayed, twice, and my hand luggage was manually searched, and dusted for explosives. A chatty man waved a little wand thing over every product in my make up bag, after having a good rummage through my handbag. I was very interested in what he was up to. He explained that he was looking for explosive traces, and that ''some ingredients in ladies' makeup can produce an explosive reading''. (Perhaps the terrorists can learn from this and produce some killer combinations of ''blush explosion'' and ''full-blast mascara'' which when combined produces suitably dramatic effects. I think The Joker tried something similar in one of the Batman films). Anyway, the point being that security seemed pretty on the ball already. All these doom-mongering headlines remind me of the tanks at Heathrow business, ( what happened to that story?) and the timing just...well.. awfully convenient as Blair's inability to get a Lebanon/Israel ceasefire - despite ostentatiously delaying his holiday - and the Labour split as the refusal to condemn Israel's actions as disproportionnate ( you're telling me) whilst horrific reports come in each day from Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon have been engulfing the Government in yet more unwanted headlines.

Coming back from Turkey today on a 3am flight, 48 hours after after the Bottle Bombers Terror Plot Foiled Drama (TM) , I was able to carry hand luggage, ( which was x-rayed twice in Turkey) water for the journey, books, duty-free whisky and moisuriser - and still whizzed through customs in the UK having only been delayed an hour in take off. I had visions of having to camp on airport floors for days and being strip-searched and my luggage rifled whilst tens of thousands of travellers gnawed plastic sandwiches and quietened screaming toddlers around me. But it was all fine.

I'm glad that what appears to be a wicked criminal plot to cause a horrific-but-nonetheless- entirely-imaginable 4000 casualties has been thwarted. Well done to the alleged plot-foilers. I object, however, to puff-chested clench-jawed hardbitten soundbitten rubbish about ''the new and deadly threat'' from ''evil people'' who ''hate our freedoms'' and the need for more and more civil-liberty-busting measures being spouted at what politicians seem to think is a cringing, huddled population. I haven't seen anyone panicking. Despite the chuntering about ''a threat greater than Hitler'' and ''unimaginable casualties''.

This is not a war, it's a nihilstic misognistic macho stupid death-cult idea that attracts the adolescently angry intent on causing vicious criminal acts for political purpose, and it is unfortunately aided in its propoganda and recruitment by the results of a manifestly unfair UK/US foreign policy and bellicose rhetoric that fans the flames of extremist anger.

And we can all deal with it best by keeping calm. As pretty much everyone seems to be doing, bar some politicians and pundits. Who have a vested interest in reminding us that The Sky Is Falling Best Listen To Me

Matthew Parris on the money. And Holly does a great write-up of a meeting with one of the chief benificiaries of the current situation, saving me the trouble ( passport dramas prevented it before I left the UK).

And now I must go to bed, it has been a very long 24 hours with no sleep. Miff is even fatter than when I went away, she is asleep on the desk and J is asleep on the sofa. I need to crash too. But it is good to be back. How is everyone?


Blogger steve said...

Hey Rachel, hope despite the horrible hospital visit you had a good holiday.

Re: the imminent terror threat which may destroy us all at any given second.

Yes, I'm sure the security services have done a great job, and they have thwarted what sounds like a massive plot.

However, there is no need for the media, (in particular sensationalist ITV News headlines) informing us that we will all be murdered by terrorists seemingly anywhere and at anytime. Being constantly told that we could be blown up/ blown out the sky is pretty terrifying in itself. The whole thing stinks of the politics of fear. Maybe I am being too cynical, but the massively overblown airport security just seem largely choreographed.

And whatever happened to being innocent till proven guilty? Twenty odd people have been arrested, yet their names and photos have been released and they are being painted as the inner evil. A bit premamture surely.

If these measures in airports are what it takes to keep us safe, then why didn't we have them years ago?

The whole incident is being blatantly manipulated for political gain. In my opinion.


August 12, 2006 3:11 pm  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Hi Rachel,

Welcome back. I hope you had a great time, it sounds like you did. It seems like you caught up with what's been going on in the news pretty quick. Very grim stuff, but this viral by Beau Bo D'Or summed it all up for me.

Anyway now you're back blogging will be more fun :)


August 12, 2006 5:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good see you back in one piece, mate.

But bloody hell. Did you insult an old gypsy woman or something a while back? Broke a mirror? Is John Reid sticking pins in an effigy of you, maybe?

August 12, 2006 6:19 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Rachel,

So sorry to hear about your injuries - you are one tough cookie!

It seems like rest is on the menu for you - hope you get plenty!

August 12, 2006 9:25 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

Jolly pleased you're back; and I think you should patent that makeup idea, if The Joker hasn't already :).

August 12, 2006 10:14 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

Welcome back Rachel :).

August 12, 2006 10:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Glad to hear you had a good time in spite of vicious waves.

As for the political expediency of the current terror plot -- they apparently were tracking it for weeks and weeks, but started the arrests and the release of fear-mongering press statements __the day after__ a Bush-loving Democrat senator (Joe Liberman) was beaten in a primary election by an unknown candidate, running on an anti-war platform. The American Republicans are apparently worried this is a precursor to possible Republican losses in our November elections, so what better to do than crank up the fear meter?

As for airport screening - I think the British (and EU generally?) have a higher quality of security employee than in the US, where it is clear that the underpaid, demoralized screeners aren't paying full attention. A bit scary in itself...

August 13, 2006 7:00 am  
Blogger Gene said...

Did you locate your old passport yet? Check the biscuit jar.

August 13, 2006 7:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back Rachel, look forward to your continued posting on Urban75 (we could do with a few more sensible people over there at the mo!).

Funny enough, you're the only person I've seen mention the Joker/Batman thing; it's the first thought I had when I hear the news break and it led to a sense of unreality about this whole drama...

August 13, 2006 9:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I've been reading your blog long enough now to get the impression you like your civil liberties.

what do you think about this?

Would you rather have privacy, or allow the airport authorities to check if people are carrying stuff?

Having moved from the uk to the us 6 years ago I get to see both nations arguing about liberties vs protection - I've not figured out which ones worse, but the us certainly seems more uptight about privacy invasion.

I'd be quite happy to be full body scanned at an airport, but then I'd also be quite happy with biometric id cards and passports - if the government wants to track me I'm sure they can anyway - they don't need another card to do it.

but, I'm curious what you think?
Think it would help? If it was quick enough (real time) it could just be part of a corridoor we walk through ala customs.

Glad you enjoyed Turkey (despite the freak wave!)

August 14, 2006 5:12 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Welcome home Rachel. Glad you were able to return with so few problems. I was concerned you would be stuck in Turkey...! x

August 14, 2006 10:56 am  
Blogger Jherad said...

Welcome back - good to see you've hit the ground running!

Hope you feel better soon, after all those bumps and scrapes.

August 14, 2006 2:58 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I was interested in the airport scanner thing, and personally wouldn't have a problem with it - I don't see beign checked as a breach of my human rights. I see locking up people without trial, trial by media, ID cards and all the other post terror legislation as far more problematical. I will post on this when I have a sec, probably tomorrow or Thursday.

August 15, 2006 2:09 pm  

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