Tag Archives: Britain

Airport Gestapo #3

 . . . . previously I had apparently managed to annoy a member of Heathrow airport security sufficiently to put me on their radar.

OK! I’m coming. I’m coming. Don’t you think you’re being a little heavy-handed? Photo credit: Wikipedia

Another Gestapo-type, though smiling this time, faced me. These women are so tall – the better to look down on me I suppose. She was accompanied by her one man hit squad. He was head and shoulders above Jimmy and smiling too, a smile at odds with his shaven head and biceps straining the short sleeves of his shirt. A radio the size of a brick looked as lethal as one the way he held it up at shoulder height.

“Just step this way.” My feet were rooted to the ground. “Please follow me,” Ms. Gestapo encouraged and I reluctantly obeyed. “Just step in here if you would,” she insisted and reached for a door marked in large letters DO NOT ENTER, SECURITY PERSONNEL ONLY. “Please,” and she gestured into the room. My feet, mired in a thick soup of reticence, moved very slowly towards the door.

“Are you together?” the eerily smiling hit man asked Jimmy who was standing back a pace watching me be led away to my doom.

“Yes.” Jimmy is mostly given to telling the truth but in this instance didn’t have sufficient time to think of an alternative before he was coerced to join me in the little cell.

“Can you step in please?” the hit man said persuasively as though he were the patient parent of recalcitrant children being told to go sit in the corner. We were both verbally dragged the last few feet into a tiny room with only one chair.

The pair of secret police had foreign accents but they spoke so few words so succinctly their accent was difficult to place – some country in Eastern Europe? I’m well past the age for human trafficking surely. And what will they do with Jimmy? There had been two very pretty young girls behind me in the security queue – one blond, one brunette. And plenty of fit young men. Why us?

“Please sit.” As we hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on or who at this point was being asked to sit we both remained standing, mute and bewildered.

“Wait here, sir,” and the hit man gestured at the wall just inside the door after he’d made a production of closing it firmly, a creepy sycophantic grin plastered on his face.

So it was me they were asking to sit. There didn’t appear to be any restraints on the chair or electrical leads dangling from it so was just aiming my bottom at the seat when I was told, “Leave your bag over there,” with a gesture to the opposite wall.

Damn the bag! I blame the bag. I wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for the bag.

Then with no wasted pleasantries I was told, “Stand over here in this circle and hold your arms up like this,” and Ms. Gestapo demonstrated the classic Hands up! posture.

Oh God, they’re going to shoot me. Why would they want to shoot me for peevish behavior? Isn’t that a little extreme for 21st century Britain or have we walked through a door into the dark ages?

“Now turn around slowly.” Shoot me in the back? Ms. G. pointed to arrows in a circle on a mat on the floor where I stood. As I turned on the spot with Hands up! she operated a computer terminal while the hit man stood braced against the door preventing our escape. I completed my captive’s pirouette as she concentrated on the computer screen.

“Thank you. All done. You may take your bag,” and we were escorted from the room.

I smiled sheepishly at Jimmy, completely at a loss for a witticism to lighten the mood and slow my palpitations. He said not a word, but he didn’t need to. His expression said it all.

Five minutes later over coffees and a bit giggly with relief, I said to Jimmy, “You know what just happened, don’t you? I’ve had a virtual strip search.”

“Well it serves you right.” I don’t know how he’d resisted saying it until now.

If you think that was enough of an ordeal for one journey you’d be wrong.

. . . . . to be continued.

The Secret Diary of a Smug Married.

I would like to share with you today a post by my favourite/favorite British/French blogger. It isn’t about travel, RVing, silly signs or poems. It’s just very funny. I’d like to visit with her one day when we are in France again but she lives at the back of Beyond and I can’t find Beyond on the map.

Multifarious meanderings

Bridget Jones is back. She has apparently gone full-circle, and is now Mark Darcy-less once again. The question is, am I going to read a third serving of Bridget?

I really don’t know. I remember loving the first two books. Then a few years and three births later, I picked up the first book again, and realised that my initial sympathy for the misunderstood, nicotine-addicted bachelorette had not only waned, but had been replaced by a sneaking desire to slip into the pages and stick her oversized knickers over her head. After a day knee-deep in toys, trying to deal with the laundry equivalent of Vesuvius whilst a newborn baby mistook my nipples for chewing gum, a wailing, incontinent two-year-old clung to my shins and my five-year-old cut up the magazine I had bought in a feverish moment of optimism two months before, the last thing I needed to read…

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How Not to Buy a Car – Part 1

Pumped with excitement at buying a car in our new country, Jimmy phoned. “I found the one!”

ChevyTahoe2007
ChevyTahoe2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What color is it?”

“You’re such a girl.”

“Well?”

“It’s grey.”

“Oh.” I guess I should have asked about the model, the year, the engine size and the accessories.

“You can see what you think of the salesman, Teddy, next week.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll see.”

When we arrived into a sea of Chevys, Teddy, handsome in his Labrador-eyed, toothy way, grasped me warmly by the hand and hauled me onto my feet. “HI! I’m Teddy! You must be Carol! Would you like to see your new car?!” He grinned and bounced a bit. If he had a tail, it would have been wagging furiously.

In the showroom, Teddy lounged back proprietarily in his chair, hands behind his head, elbows up, feet up, chewing gum visibly but when he was gone a series of people raided the desk drawers. Teddy didn’t even have his own desk.

When he arrived back, I was surprised to see on a page of scribbles that the price of the car was $3,000 more than Jimmy had told me. “Were you aware that the price you agreed didn’t include tax?” I whispered.

“Yes,” Jimmy bluffed for the benefit of the salesman. I should have reminded Jimmy that, unlike in Britain where sales tax is included in the ticket price, it is always added on at the point of purchase in the U.S. as a nasty aftershock. It’s not so grave when the extra amount is $3 but $3,000, well; we were both a bit nonplussed.

Then expected to sign away thousands of dollars, give or take as Teddy put it, I asked “What do you mean give or take?”

“Well my math isn’t real good so I’ve guessed tax and licensing fees at 10%.” Jimmy and I exchanged looks of amazement and horror. Not only was Teddy guessing at a high ticket price, he was expecting payment in full.

Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You realise I’m not paying for the car today,” Jimmy told Teddy and Teddy blinked blankly at him. “I told you yesterday on the phone that my funds haven’t come through from the U.K. yet.” No signs of comprehension yet from Teddy. “I’m here to put a deposit on the car.” Teddy smiled benignly at Jimmy. “How much deposit would you like?”

Teddy snapped out of his trance, “How much would you like to put down?”

“Well, how much would you like to put down?” Teddy was out of his depth again.

“How about 10 per cent?” This added more confusion so Teddy hoofed it for 10 minutes to get help with his numbers and then returned, pushing more doodles at us.

“You want me to sign this?” I asked Jimmy, dumbfounded. He shrugged. I signed. Teddy swept up the hand scrawled page of numbers and stopped chewing long enough to grin broadly at us as he whisked it off to the finance office. “I’m not comfortable spending several thousand dollars with a man who can’t add up,” I said.

“Nor am I.”

“What do you want to do?” But Teddy was back and explained that we were waiting for the finance officer.

Jimmy took the opportunity to try to conclude other issues, “You’ll give us the handbook for the car and the disk for the sat nav.”

“I’ll find you a handbook and I’ll give you a good price on the disk.”

“The car was advertised with sat nav so it should come with the disk.”

Sat Nav“I already know all that, Teddy.”

“I’ll see if I can get it for you at cost.”

“NO!’ we chorused.

Teddy sprang out of his chair and out of the door like a puppy after a stick. “He’s going to try to pinch one out of another car,” Jimmy surmised. Sure enough Teddy reappeared with a DVD box in his hand and promptly disappeared into the manager’s office.

“I’m really uncomfortable with all this,” I told Jimmy.

“If he messes me about any more I’m going to walk,” Jimmy spat.

“Shouldn’t we be talking to the sales manager?”

“Have you seen him?” Jimmy asked incredulously.

I turned to see a lumberjack trudge past. “You can’t mean that man with the walrus moustache, flannel shirt, torn jeans and cap with ear flaps.”

“Yep.”

“Oh boy,” I said, not as in OH BOY! but as in oh help.

We were both gripping the arms of our chairs ready to bolt for the door – angry, cold, frustrated and heads fizzing with the raucous inane showroom TV when the finance manager appeared. He was well spoken, clean shaven, wearing a white shirt and a tie and led us into his professional looking office. He quickly took us through all the details of our purchase, came up with an exact price, then congratulated us on our new car and extracted a check for the deposit from Jimmy.

You didn’t really think that was the end of the story did you? Oh no . . . . . to be continued.

Spoiler alert! We did eventually liberate the car from the dealer
Spoiler alert! We did eventually liberate the car from the dealer. It’s dark gray I’m told. Looks blue to me. Nice, don’t you think?