Friday, 15 January 2010

Who You Gonna Call?

As you can imagine, various conversations have been had in the industry in recent weeks concerning the knock-on implications of some arsehole blowing up his underpants. There is a very definite chain of events that occurs after any security-related event, a chain which more or less amounts to 'if this ever happens again you can be damn sure we'll know exactly who to blame for letting it happen'. Yes, I'm flippant about this, and I think in a lot of ways that's the correct position, but that's a different story.

Airport security. I have not since nor probably never will again see airport security like we had here in the 1980's. We were doing "terr*rism" here long before it started really selling and getting to number 1 in the charts and stuff, doncherknow. Forget putting your toothpaste in a wee polythene bag, you had to pull into a lay-by with a sort of army checkpoint thing going on a couple of miles down the road from the airport itself to get your car searched, for starters, and were then body-searched for the first time before you even got inside the airport building itself. It was a bit of a o_O moment for me the first time I walked into an airport somewhere else and realised it was just a case of walking in straight off the street, with the same ease as one would walk into a shopping centre. Actually at that time the shopping centres here probably body-searched you on the way in - I can't remember for sure, I was only wee.

Anyway, there isn't really a point to this other than a vague anecdote I thought I'd share because some light relief is in order for me before I finish telling you about the terrible shit-fest that this last week or two has been. I've been staring at the same draft for a couple of days, it's just too bloody miserable.

It was, I'm pretty sure, round about 1984, which would place me at six  years old or thereabouts. Several very very important things were happening in quick succession - you may at first not see why they are related - firstly, I was taking my first trip 'abroad' with the family, on a holiday to Spain; secondly, I had received for Christmas that year a Meccano set, and finally I had recently seen Ghostbusters.

As any child was at this time, I was Ghostbusters mad, and had pretty much decided that this was my future career right there and then. The other great god in my life at this stage was the Meccano set, which I was utterly obsessed with. Being an enterprising sort of a child, I had decided that it seemed like a simple enough matter to construct my own ghost-catching-ray-gun from the humble Meccano set. Easy because I tell you what it was a magically brilliant Meccano set and apart from all the wee nuts and bolts and girders it also ONLY HAD A FRIGGIN MOTOR IN IT.

Anyway. I had discovered, because I was that kind of child, that just attaching the one provided AA battery was absolutely not where the money was. Instead, you could fashion an ARRAY of POWER for your ghost-hunting device by sellotaping a long string of AA batteries end to end, and the motor then went absolutely dip shit and if you were lucky screamed and whined and emitted smoke.

With this technology I fashioned my ghost-capturing weapon from little metal rivets and girders. And I loved it, naturally, for however many days or weeks my ghosthunting career lasted - it was so cool that the other kids let me be Venkman for a while, and I was a serious nerd - this was like winning the lottery, you understand.

Happy days. So the whole Spain holiday thing loomed and while I'm sure it seemed at least vaguely interesting it didn't really compete in the interest stakes when put alongside my fledgling paranormal containment and disposal service, so I was actually quite bummed I guess about having to down tools on this front for two whole weeks.

But I had a fucking great idea, I did.

If the young Koala had to go to Spain, then he would tackle their ghosts.

At the last minute, once the bags were packed, I furtively crept up to where my parents packed suitcases were stored, and slipped into one of them my protonic-ghost-capturing-equipment. Consisting of a block of various bits of metal, wires and so on, and a bunch of taped batteries. Then happy as dog with two danglers a couple of hours later we all trotted off to the airport with this in one of our suitcases.

Apparently the resulting partial-evacuation episode in the airport was pretty impressive. My dad ended up getting questioned by the army and everything. Brilliant.


  1. You got the set with the motor? You jammy moo! In all my years of Meccanno-obsessery and collecting, my folks never got me the motor. Said it was too expensive. In the 70s/80s only the rich kids had toys with motors (or Lego Technic, same thing really).
    But yayy Meccanno was awesome. It's shit now though, no more metal parts, or the sharp little bolts that always went through the metal right into your thumb. Goddamn 'elf'n'safety... *dailymail-esque grumblings*

  2. Yeah, but on reflection I'm pretty sure my dad got as much enjoyment out of the Meccano set as I did! :)

  3. That's a belter story. Well done.

    My only comparable anecdote is when I got lost in Park Centre and when asked by the Tannoy announcing staff member what my name was, I said "Marty Mc Fly" from Back To The Future (the film *I* was obsessed with at that age!) No evacuations or bomb squad, just my mum laughing at my foolish tears.