There are days when one is proud to be British.
And then there’s yesterday.
Smoking’s not healthy, no two ways about it. It shortens your life, stunts your growth and makes you unattractive to the opposite sex. (I read that in a book – Why Smoking Sucks – so it must be true.)
According to reports in this morning’s national press (even The Independent, which doesn’t generally go in for news), a terrorist plot of global proportions was foiled when armed police swept into action on the M6 in Staffordshire. [A well-known Al Qaeda ‘hotspot’, and listed in ‘500 Places To Visit And Blow Up Before You Die’ (Taliban Today, June 2010).]
Traffic was closed in both directions – and at rush hour, too – for more than six hours.
It turns out a man – on his own (naturally – see third paragraph above!) – was spotted having a quick drag on the back seat of the Preston to London Megabus. (Statistics, freely available on the internet – so we know they’re to be trusted – show that 94 per cent of us are officially obese in the UK, but until now it was not as well known that we have our own buses, with extra-wide seats and complimentary chips. That’s progress with a capital ‘P’, whatever the dietitians tell us.)
The police were phoned and, it not being a burglary or equally minor offence, were off like a bat, hurtling through the streets, ringing a bell and checking their ammunition.
Passengers were herded from the coach, arms in the air, and told to proceed in an orderly fashion or a man in a tree would shoot them with his gun. (For some reason that’s where the marksmen were stationed. Possibly in case there was indeed a bomb on board, and it went off while no one was looking. They’d be far enough away to survive the blast, pick up a medal and be home in time for tea.)
It turned out pretty pronto that it wasn’t a real fag after all, but a so-called ‘health improvement aid for smokers’. Or, to give it its proper name, an electronic cigarette.
I’m not sure why it took a further five and three quarter hours to call the mission off. Our police are not known for acting quickly, unless there’s a fine involved, or a car needs blowing up – so possibly they were waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Or until their shift ended, whichever came sooner.
Police said it put them in a good light as it showed they took all threats seriously and had responded in a ‘proportionate manner’.
If it takes six hours for the police to tell the difference between a bomb and a cigarette, I’m not sure we wouldn’t be better off blowing everything up ourselves and saving the Taliban trouble.
At least we’d know where we were.
No one was shot, or fatally injured during the operation, but police say that doesn’t mean they view it as a failure.
The authorities, meanwhile, were keen to confirm that ‘all passengers are safe and well’.
Had they reached London, of course, and the Met been informed, it might have been a different story.
(Click on above image to enlarge)
Thought for the Day
‘I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse.’
Brendan Behan (1923-1964)