Sitting listening to Lyric, Ireland‘s classical musical station, as I drove the car this evening, I was enjoying their programme of traditional music, until it came to a comment made by the presenter. She apologised to listeners that a concert by a Norwegian duo of fiddle players, which she had been publicising, had been cancelled at short notice and that she had been unaware of the cancellation.
The story behind the cancellation was that the duo had been flying to Ireland via Stansted Airport in England, having flown from Norway to England with their very valuable violins as hand luggage, they were told by the staff at Stansted that the violins must go into the aircraft hold for the flight from Stansted to Dublin. Unwilling to risk the tools of their trade to the handling of the baggage handlers, they took the next flight back to Norway.
The presenter commented that she had not been aware that the humble violin was now a weapon of mass destruction; she always thought that in the wrong hands it was more a weapon of mass torture. There was a tone of laughter and mockery in her voice; if the British security services cannot distinguish between a Norwegian violin duet and a terrorist, then her derision was justified.
I am proud of my British passport. Until November of last year I could have taken out an Irish passport without even having to have applied for Irish citizenship, I never did so because I think England is a good place to come from. What makes me sad is that Mr Blair has done something that no-one has succeeded in doing before. It used to be that Britain was either loved or hated; Mr Blair has made my country into something that makes people laugh.
If banning violins from aircraft cabins is intended to ensure the safety of the country, then we are indeed in trouble.