Wednesday 30 December 2009

Idle dreams of X-ray specs

15st 3lb, zero units. I distinctly remember those ads in the comics of my boyhood for “X-ray glasses” which would enable the lucky if geeky purchaser to see through the clothes of the girl he was staring at, at least until her boyfriend came across and punched him into another dimension. I was always a bit sceptical about whether they would actually work; as my mother, bless her, was sceptical about the genuine X-ray machines they used to have in the shoe departments of all good stores, so that you could see exactly how well your prospective purchases fitted. She was not dubious about whether the machines worked or not; she just thought that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to be bombarding parts of her boy’s tender young body with needless “rays”. True, this came from the same school of thought that blamed the lousy summers of the time on the atom bomb and / or the launch of those Sputnik thingummyjigs, but so far as I’m concerned by mum was ahead of her time. As all the old wives of the 1950s may well yet prove to be, when some UN scientist stands up to make the latest solemn pronouncement about the true origins of global warming.

Incidentally, so far as I remember those ads, the “X-ray specs” only saw through the young lady’s floral cretonne flock to give the lucky purchaser a glimpse of her bra and knickers, which were puzzlingly resistant to the magic properties of the glasses. How wonderful of science to spend the intervening years working to overcome this obvious deficiency, so that the new generation of body scanners (coming soon to an airport near you) will provide a fine view of the pudenda of all those passing through. I think I might apply for a job. No, no. I’ve just remembered seeing a TV documentary about naturism, and the resulting realization that at least 95 per cent of the human race look vastly better fully clothed, ideally with a bag over their heads.

Talking of which, it really is the most splendid of jokes that, thanks to the nefarious activities of their co-religionists, all those devout ladies who go to so much trouble to conceal all their womanly attractions beneath layers of flowing black bombazine will soon find themselves passing through scanners that give some perverted operator a good look at what we once naively spoke of as our private parts. No, not perverted, obviously. A dedicated servant of the state determined to make flying safer for us all. Not some bloke who failed the CRB checks for Santa Claus, furtively strumming away in his control booth as he zooms in on yet another promising Brazilian.

What I haven’t quite worked out yet is whether the aforementioned scanners can see INTO the body as well as beneath the clothes. Because clearly they are going to be of limited utility if Abdul can jam a stick of gelignite up his arse and still board the plane undetected. Personally, I think the answer is for all air passengers to be stripped naked and given the rubber glove treatment before boarding. I won’t actually be flying again if it happens, but then I hardly ever flew anyway. And it will certainly reduce carbon emissions, increase house prices under current flight paths and spare some very attractive listed buildings in the vicinity of Heathrow and Stansted.

I think they should up the security procedure for getting into the House of Commons to that level, too. Yes, I can also think of a few MPs who would probably like it, but it seems a fair bet that the majority would throw in the towel. And you can’t be too careful where security is concerned, can you?

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