As the O said to the 8: “What a great belt you’re wearing!” It’s a good job the 8 wasn’t travelling with author David Jones, creator of children’s character Fireman Sam, when he was flying out through Gatwick a few weeks ago.
As Mr Jones passed through the security scanner at the airport, he placed his belt, shoes, wallet, and scarf into the tray. As he did so a Muslim woman in hijab passed through beside him without showing her face. Mr Jones quipped: “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.”
After passing through the gates he was confronted by Security, accused of racism, and marched off to an interview room. His two daughters were left waiting in the departure lounge wondering where he’d gone.
Mr Jones explained: “Something like Orwell’s 1984 seems to have arrived at Gatwick airport. I said that I had said nothing racist. She took my passport and boarding pass and proceeded to question me, saying that one of the Muslim staff had been offended. I again stated that I hadn’t made a racist remark, purely an observation that we were in a maximum security situation being searched thoroughly whilst a woman with her face covered walked through.”
At this point Mr Jones demanded that the police be called. Along came Plod, earnest and politically correct, about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. (By the time you read this he’s probably been fast-tracked to Chief Constable). This cop told Mr Jones he would only be allowed to continue his journey if he apologised to the Muslim guard.
Eventually, one BA Manager and two hours later, Mr Jones agreed to accept that his remark “could” have been considered offensive by a Muslim guard. And so, with his fingers crossed under the table, and through gritted teeth, Mr Jones apologised on that basis, and caught his flight. It strikes me that the only thing Orwell got wrong was the date.
Selective offence conditioning