On Saturday I drove my sister Susannah and her husband Adrian to the airport. They’ve only been visiting here from London for a couple of weeks, alas, and already they’ve gone back.
The Melbourne weather put on quite a performance. As we drove up the freeway the threatening grey skies opened up, and it poured down rain. And then it hailed. And hailed, and hailed. By the time we reached the Western Ring Road interchange, there was so much hail on the ground that it resembled (to my mind, at least) a fall of snow. The cars had very wisely slowed to a crawl. Thankfully the hail stopped after a little while, and it appeared that it caused no accidents.
After we got everything organised at the airport, we went to have a sit down and a drink and on the way we noticed a bag. A bag left on its own. In the airport. On its own. In the airport.
One of the Melbourne Airport security people resembled a Kurvi-Tasch regime policeman. (From Tintin)
It looked like a kids’ backpack, and was sitting on front of one of those kiddy rides next to the international departure doors. Probably some kid had had a ride, then their family had merrily gone through the doors and realised too late that they’d left it behind.
We sat down, and kept a lookout for a security guy to mention it to. Yeah. ‘Cos they’d be alert, not alarmed, and would take it to lost property, right? Because it couldn’t be anything too scary. This wasn’t Europe – I couldn’t see them taking it gingerly outside to be blown up or anything.
The security guys (they all seem to be guys, I didn’t spot any women) have obviously been upgraded since I was last at the airport in 2001. There’s something about them that makes them look more threatening now. They don’t seem to carry any more weapons or other equipment than before, but somehow their uniforms have been tweaked, possibly to make them look a bit more like police. One security guy I had seen earlier strutting about was obviously quite pleased to be wearing a leather jacket. Adrian was later to suggest it (and his moustache) made him look like one of the Village People, though somehow he reminded me of one of the Kurvi-Tasch regime military dudes in Tintin and the Calculus Affair.
So while Adrian cheerfully explained how much plastic explosive could be packed into such a bag, we watched for security guys, but none came. By the time we spotted one, he had already found the bag, and was kind of examining it, while evidently trying to avoid touching it. He got on his radio, and within a few minutes, no less than four security guys, plus another Ubersecurity guy (he was wearing a different uniform) were all looking at it, standing around and talking about it. They were patently not evacuating the area, or taking cover behind a Duty Free stand in case it exploded, but they weren’t moving it, either. We jokingly wondered if we should take cover elsewhere in the airport – and more importantly, if we should have bought take-away drinks so we could have taken them with us.
It came time for Susannah and Adrian to go, and we said our goodbyes, as the security blokes were still standing around the bag. Perhaps they were waiting for an anti-bomb robot or a SWAT team to turn up or something, but as I left the airport, nothing happened, and I saw nothing about it on the news afterwards, so I guess it really was some kid’s backpack. Hopefully they were re-united with it.
The rain kept falling, though there was no more hail. I drove home, running a couple of errands along the way. It was wet and cold when I got home, and I got soaked a little later when I went for a walk down the street to the supermarket and got caught in a torrential downpour. But I made a laksa for dinner that made me feel better. Okay, so it was mostly from one of those kit things – I forget the brand name: Asian-in-a-Box or something like that – so not exactly a super-herculean cooking effort, but it was mucho delicious.
By the way, no more newspapers have gone missing.