At Heathrow, I was pulled aside at the baggage check. For some reason – possibly because he had an extremely flat head – the security guard appeared to have taken offence to my hair straightener.
“We’d like to do a body scan,” he said.
“You mean . . .” I mimed pulling on a rubber glove (in case you are interested, to really make this work, you have to shout “SNAP!” at the end. So I suppose it’s not technically a mime; more a smash hit mini-drama/musical).
“No! No. You stand in a room and a machine takes an image of your body. It’s entirely . . .”
“Non-invasive,” I clarified with relief. “Is it like- like an x-ray?”
“No, it works on heat. Takes an image of your body temperature. It’s new technology. First machine of its type in the world. Here at Heathrow.” He seemed very proud of this fact. It was heart-warming to meet a man with such an extremely flat head who took such evident pride in his work.
“So will it be able to tell if I’m smuggling 600g of cocaine up my anus?” I asked.
“ARE you smuggling 600g of cocaine up your anus?” he said sharply.
I swear, Airport Security has to be one of the most humour-challenged professions in existence. OH COME ON! IT’S NOT AS IF I SUGGESTED I WAS SMUGGLING A BOMB UP MY ANUS.
I had to wait a couple of minutes while another suspicious passenger was being scanned. For new technology, that’s a long time to complete a body scan.
I’m just saying.
I was admitted into a small room, bare but for a computer monitor, a circle printed on the floor, and two security staff.
“Stand in the circle and slowly rotate 360°,” said one of the attendants.
“Clockwise or anticlockwise?”
“Clockwise.” I did a smart right-turn.
“. . . or anticlockwise.”
I panicked, and started immediately to my left. I must have got stuck in a repeating loop, because the operator said, “Just go in one direction or the other, please.”
I decided to go clockwise.
“Slower, please,” said airport security. I turned slower.
“Ok, why don’t you just tell me the optimal time for a full rotation?”
“Thirty seconds. Please remove hands from hips. Arms straight out at shoulder level.”
Turns out I wasn’t smuggling anything up my anus.
Which was a relief.