Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Today's terror alert status: RUN FOR THE HILLS!


I briefly assumed it was a joke when I returned from holiday on Monday to hear that the UK is to get its own regular Terror Alert warning system, which would give the public an idea of how dangerous it was to go outdoors lest the man in the next seat on the tube might be carrying more stuff in his bag than a Blackberry and his lunch. Then I remembered John Reid is Home Secretary, and suddenly nothing looks like a joke.

What precisely are we supposed to do when we find out that the alert level is, say, 'severe'? Refuse to board a bus, until everyone with a beard is forced to get off? Walk up and down any train from Leeds or Luton, carrying a big stick and looking for anyone with a rucksack? Or just spend every spare minute quaking in our shoes, waiting for the moment when our name is inscribed in some grisly online Book of Remembrance? Alas, as with so many ZaNuLabour initiatives, the answer is mundane: it's yet another way the government can look like it's doing something about terrorism while actually not helping at all (cf. ID cards - on which subject, some good news at last).

As it happens, the alert level is likely to remain 'severe' until we all die or until the scheme collapses under the weight of public ridicule, according to the Mirror. Let's face it, we're a rich, complacent, barely post-colonial nuclear power. There's always going to be someone who's got it in for us.

In the meantime, you'll have to carry on enduring rubbish-strewn train carriages because of the authorities' refusal to put bins on station platforms. And, while the terror level remains at anything other than "Chill Out, Man, It's Not Going To Happen", be vigilant (as if thirty years of IRA terrorism had never happened, and had taught us nothing). Oh, and always carry some means of identification: it makes things quicker for the police when they arrest you for carrying a copy of the Guardian.


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