In the Footsteps of Nick and Jena: Part Two. Security.

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

“Do you have any liquids?” She enquired

Having no checked in luggage, I made straight the security clearance, the most stressful thirty yards on the planet. As usual the queue, kept in check by those seatbelt on pole things, was huge.

I pulled the laptop from my rucksack and tucked it under my arm. Making a mental note of everything, I prepared for the appearance of the deadly plastic tray. The obligatory clear plastic bag containing deodorant, toothpaste and black Parker Quink, was nestling where I could reach it, in the top of my pack.

The woman in front of me was unusually chilled. I was ticking off each item in my head and wondering about my shoes, when she dumped her suitcase into the first tray. The security operative then bombarded her with a series of questions. 

“Do you have any liquids?” She enquired, pointing at the full bottle of Evian sticking out of the side pocket.

“Oh, yes. Sorry.” Replied the woman. I began to get mildly irritated.

“Any other liquids? Perfume etcetera?” The guard made to unzip the bag.

“Oh yes, thanks. You’ll find them all in there,” came the calm response, the opposite to my bubbling annoyance. On opening the case, the officer pulled out the biggest plastic bag of cosmetics I had seen outside of a Boots shopping trolley.

“And is that a laptop you have there?” Uttered the guard, pointing at the MacBook under the cosmetic mountain.

“That would be mine too, officer.” I was rescued by a tug on my arm, thankfully, before I could vent my spleen at the woman.

“There’s a free space there sir,” another officer said, raising her eyes knowingly at little miss Ignorant.

I took a deep breath and was promptly thrown into chaos. My perfectly choreographed routine would have got a two, even from the late, great Len! Five sweaty, riotous minutes later, I was pulling on my belt, strapping on my watch and stuffing the other objects into my backpack. I staggered away, leaving my case in the plastic tray.

“Excuse me sir!” It was the same guard who’d moved me. Tail between my legs, I slunk back to the conveyer and took my case, just as my nemesis strolled past with her intact case, as fresh as a daisy.

As usual, I negotiated the garish commercialism of the duty free slalom course in a state of post security stress-mist. By the time I got to the civilisation of the departure lounge bars, I had calmed down. I made my way down to the gate to sit in peace with the other normal folks. I’d often wondered why they had designed departure lounges as if they were places you’d like to celebrate your final hours on earth. All that was missing were the dancing girls.

As I passed Smith’s, I caught a glimpse of the display Marcus had designed, surrounded by a dozen copies of the book. The colours reminded me of the day I’d first strolled down the Avenue du President Wilson and decided that would be the cover. The red-headed English giant and the diminutive hijabi walking hand in hand down the tree-lined avenue.

A young woman picked up a copy, leafed through it and held it to her chest. I ducked behind a pillar as she turned in my direction. As she walked to the till, that pleasantly nauseous feeling of butterflies returned. To actually witness someone buying your work is a unique sensation.

I was snapped out of it by the phone buzzing in my pocket. It was my agent Pippa.

“Hello, I’m glad I’ve caught you. Your flight’s at six, right?” Her soft tone always relaxed me, where had she been ten minutes earlier? I mused.

“Hi Pip, five past. I’m boarding in a few minutes. Everything alright?” The down side of her intonation was that it was difficult to read.

“Yes and no. They love the manuscript for L’Esprit, but not the ending.” She could have told me I had cancer in that tone of voice and I’d still smile.

“I see. Let me guess. They want the trio dead, right?” I’d compromised on the ending of the second book and I knew it.

“Got it in one. Remember how you told me? The original ending? I sold it to them and they’re hooked. All you have to do is write it.” Pippa replied.

“Consider it done. I’ll start when I get back.” The tannoy sounded for the gate to open and boarding to begin.

“No, Brian. It’s got to be for next Friday. You have one week.” Her voice didn’t waver at the bombshell she’d just released.

“I’ll call you in a couple of hours. I need to change things there.” My search for the amorous couple would have to wait. I had three villains to poison.

“Good man. Safe flight and speak soon.” The phone clicked and silence prevailed.

Writing, or should I say, rewriting a novel in Paris. Now that was kind of exciting. Nick and Jena would have to wait.


  1. Kenneth Childs

    Intriguing. I haven’t flown since 2019 pre lockdown and Parkinsons. I hate airport security. See if priority boarding makes it any easier. Mobility not good and I seem to have picked up a horrible chest infection Damn.

    • Brian Forster

      Same here Ken. I’ve been in bed for a week. This new thing is going around. It’s worse than COVID! I hope you recover for the trip!


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