Monday musings on travel terror and unvalentines day

*** Pointing the finger at paranoia – Last xmas 5 Black members of a Steel Band (including a blind man) were forcibly removed from a Ryan Air flight from London Standstead to Sardinia because another passenger thought they looked like terrorists. The five were recently awarded £5,000 each – a pathetic sum of money considering the obvious trauma and inconvenience this must have caused them. Contrast this with the £45,000 awarded to French President Nicolas Sarkozy for publishing a picture of him and his wife without their permission.

A flight attendant had also expressed concern about the men. The Mayor’s and City of London Court heard that the band were “scared and embarrassed” when police took them off the plane at Sardinia’s Alghero airport, not least because they were the only black people on the flight. When they requested to be allowed to return to the aircraft, the court was told, the request was turned down by Capt Dunlop, who said there had been “tension” on the plane because of the incident.

[Hat tip:Kikuymoja]

I know a little bit how they must have felt as recently returning from another Euro city to London my passport was checked and rechecked and I was asked various personal questions before I got on the plane. Once on the plane I was again approached by someone in uniform and asked the same questions, had my passport, baggage check and boarding pass examined. I then arrived at London Heathrow and was met by two security men who asked if I was Ms Ekine. Then I was asked to follow them, again my passport was examined, questions asked about where I had been, what for, where I worked, what did I do, where did I live etc. I tried to ask why I was being harassed by three sets of security personnel but they refused to answer. Finally they asked if I was carrying anything for anyone to which I replied look search my bags if you want but I would like to know what all this is about. They then let me go without any explanation – very strange and scary experience.

***The cynic in me loved this piece in the Guardian by Charlie Brooker on “UnValentine’s Day” – more hype (haven’t we had enough of hype with Obama/Clinton same old story? Back to love which Brooks wonderfully describes as

crippling delusion known as “love”….. Valentine’s Day – the only national occasion dedicated to mental illness – is a stressful ordeal at the best of times.

It’s xmas all over again. Having survived the hype and hoorah of the pretence of joy and being with family not to talk of the empty bank account, now the miserable couplings, recently separated, unhappy singles and ecstatic at being on your own but being made to feel you are weird – have to bear the full frontal attack of the red heart. For those in this group, Brooks provides some options for “an Unvalentine’s Day. A day that actively celebrates love’s festering undercarriage. February 15 is ideal:(whilst acknowledging the need of commercial backing so unfortunately there is still a financial cost even in UnValentining):

a) Unvalentine cards containing bitter messages for ex-lovers? Typical example: a mournful cartoon bunny with a harpoon lodged in its chest cavity, staggering blank-faced into oncoming traffic, with YOU RUINED MY LIFE printed across the top in massive, scab-red lettering.

b) [for] disillusioned long-term couples: epithets include I CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS, IT ISN’T REALLY WORKING, and our-bestseller, the starkly effective DYING INSIDE.

c) Unvalentine’s Day can also accommodate all the loves that never were: the thwarted crushes, unrequited yearnings, and hopeless unspoken dreams.

d) Unvalentine meals specially designed for couples on the verge of a break-up.

So I will be celebrating the 15th with a Green balloon for all those who fall into c above – at least I dont have to face them, talk to them just envy whoever they are with and work it all out in the gym! Probably if I did meet them I would be horrified and disappointed anyway so best they stay where they are – hmm this is a bit odd because I cant think of anyone at this moment but I am sure by the 15th I will be able to conjure up at least one person.