>Revenge of the Body Scanners


I hadn’t realised until now that I’ve been through one of these. Didn’t fully realise at the time. I was too distracted my taking off my shoes, trying to get my money out of pockets and not drop my phone.

Last year, in the line at Heathrow, a well-dressed short official asked me I wanted to cut the queue and use this. I asked what and he pointed to a red box. I looked at it nonchalantly and couldn’t think of a reason why not. Thinking wasn’t on the agenda with my hangover.

He positioned me in the box, arms raised to the sides like an Italian salute and left me there for a time, slightly shorter than my cerebral processes take before returning and ushering me into the world vacuous of Duty Free and morose fellow flyers.

I didn’t really know what had happened. I am not saying the little fellow didn’t explain. He could have asked me my name and I would probably have struggled out the names Ted or Bob before I got to my own. Bill?

Only after the recent terrorism attempt in the US and the inevitable forthright statements from desperately serious or seriously desperately politicians and fear-mongering security consultants led to endless footage of scanners did my vague past reveal itself in some form of delayed revelation. I say some form because firstly I screamed Total Recall at the TV. I wasn’t wrong but I could have been righter.

Science fiction does have a tendency to often come true. Future engineering builds on past thought and present knowledge. In 2000, I clearly remember walking to an broken escalator at a train station only to see it begin trudging as I approached. I stopped and glanced around for a pleasantly-aged, smiling train station employee, befitted in a navy cap and uniform standing next to a red button. But it is all steel and plastic sheet glass. Rubbish and dust.

I was alone in my long shorts and flipflops. A mildly more scientific person would have worked it out immediately. But I, like a rabbit crossing the road mused for a second and then understood I had places to go and science with its conveniences and interventions probably knows what its doing.


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