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International incident, narrowly averted


Keys in the right pocket, knife in the left. I’ve done it that was since I were a wee slip of a lass of a weasel. It’s the things you don’t even know to worry about that get you when you’re a ferriner.

There was an airport-style security screening going into the building. The look on dude’s face when my NRA Commemorative Charlton Heston Three-Bladed Case Knife tumbled out told me “I’m going to have to talk to my supervisor” wasn’t a good thing. They huddled over my knife and hooted, like those monkeys in 2001.

It’s a perfectly ordinary American-street-legal pocket knife, but Supervisor told me if I were stopped for some reason by the police, I would automatically be arrested. It’s a knife. And it’s sharp — something a knife in London is not allowed to be. (I bit my tongue before I blurted, “my daddy always told me it’s the dull knife that’s dangerous”).

As it was under three inches and it wasn’t a locking blade (“my daddy always told me that a locking blade is a safety feature”), he wasn’t obliged to call the cops on me himself. But he did give me a talking-to and confiscated my deadly weapon while I was in the building.

It’s no joke. Under new rules, an arrest — even a small and stupid one — could get me kicked out of the country and barred from coming back.

Yes, today’s the day we had to drive up to sunny Croydon (think Queens) to the UK Border Agency in the aptly named Lunar House, so’s I could be biometrificated for my next round of alien papers. I left Uncle B outside. His tolerance for bullshit is extremely low. After I was disarmed, I went to the third floor to a great long room full of hundreds of green plastic chairs bolted to the floor and took a number. My number was 523.

The interview and biometrics were pretty prompt, but I waited for an hour and half while my fingerprints were checked against the ones I gave in November for my fiancée visa. They checked. I’m not approved for visa #2 yet, but it’s one more step in that direction.

I found Uncle B outside, looking splotchy and apoplectic after two hours of standing on a street corner in Croydon. Poor bastard. I didn’t have the heart to tell him beforehand he’d be the only white man in all of South London.

And my fingerprints? “In the permanent database” the helpful brochure informs me. Isn’t that swell?


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 19, 2009, 7:08 pm


Next time I’ll slip a Beretta into her jacket pocket.

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: May 19, 2009, 8:07 pm

…they took that rinky dink knife away? What are they afraid of? That you’ll become the next Jack the Ripper with that knife?

Comment from Phineas
Time: May 19, 2009, 8:10 pm

Weasels have claws don’t they?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 19, 2009, 8:17 pm

They gave it back. When I left.

Comment from naleta
Time: May 19, 2009, 8:23 pm

I must tell you that our local courthouse does not allow knives, tools or cellphones to be carried into the building by people entering. When I have to go get some paperwork, or pay for something, I make sure to have only my wallet and my car key with me. My phone and purse are securely locked in the car (tucked under the seat out of sight, too). They won’t hold items for you to pick up on your way back out, either. And this is in AMERICA!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 19, 2009, 8:28 pm

Oh, yeah. When I had my fingerprints taken (for the fiancée visa) in Hartford, Connecticut, I had to leave my cellphone in the car trunk. I can understand not allowing you to talk on them, but not allow them in the building…?

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: May 19, 2009, 9:50 pm

Okee dokee Stoaty – Isabelle pictures are up. Thanks for the visits and well wishes.

Comment from JW
Time: May 19, 2009, 9:54 pm

I showed up for jury duty in Syracuse, N.Y.
Went through the rigamarole at the courthouse. They did a thourough investigation of me for having a small basic flashlight in my purse. I was released from jury duty, and they apparently thought about not returning my friggin flashlight. I raised hell, and they gave it back to me and then ESCORTED me from the courthouse! LMAO @ those embiciles, I did!
They paid me $40.00 for jury duty, and then paid me another $200.00 for not raising anymore hell about it. Fuckers!

Comment from David Gillies
Time: May 20, 2009, 2:41 am

Thank God I no longer live in dear old Blighty. A quick inventory of my person reveals the following:

* 1 8cm lockknife
* 1 6cm flickknife
* 1 multipurpose tool, multiple blades
* 1 Swiss Army knife, ditto
* 1 pr collapsible scissors
* 1 Compo ration tin opener, which can give you a right prod

I need to get inside computer cases and do hacky electrical things on a regular basis. Plus open tins. I would submit that none of the above, in a sensible society, make me a desperado.

On the plus side, no horse need ever fear having a stone in its hoof if I am in the immediate vicinity. On the minus side, if I’m ever over in the UK and accidentally walk out the door carrying that lot, Hampshire constabulary will probably scramble their helicopter.

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: May 20, 2009, 8:13 am

I went to the courthouse Friday to apply for my 2 daughter’s passports. They would not let me take my Palm Handheld (non-cell phone!) and a small keychain flashlight with a single LED light on it. The Palm was said to be “an electronic thing” and the LED light was a “laser pointer”. Neither has been off my person in like 12 years, so I felt naked without them. Meanwhile, last year my brother walked through “airport security” with a 3 lb. Swiss Army Knife with like 9 separate blades in it among the 60 or so other gadgets. It was attached to his belt in its leather holder. The man said “that cell phone is OK!” and he walked through. (He had forgotten it was there.)

It’s good to know Britain will keep others safe from your small utility blades (while promoting terrorists with the stipulation that they worship the “religion of peace”).

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: May 20, 2009, 10:06 am

I thought badgers were black and white.

Never been to Croydon. And (unless I somehow get kidnapped and taken there) I never will. And that’s just fine by me.

I like gardening and taking cuttings of things when I’m out walking, so I’ve got a Swiss Army Knife and a miniature Stanley knife-type affair in my pocket no matter what. I live in the country though, so nobody gives a shit. And quite right too.

Ah, look at all this loverly rain. This makes up for that obnoxiously dry and sunny April.

Comment from Allen
Time: May 20, 2009, 11:22 am

Croydon, I remember taking the bus to the big city of Croydon when I was a kid. Then again, back then it was considered outside of London.

Hell, I’m so biometrified that when I even get near any machine that’s doing the checky stuff the lights and sirens go off like the 4th of July.

I feel it’s like that robot from Lost in Space. Danger, danger, Allen is near.

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 20, 2009, 11:49 am

If I understand correctly, you can be arrested for carrying a knife with a locking blade of any size, or a knife that is over 3 inches? Can you get a permit to conceal carry if you are a trades-person or a roaming Japanese Steakhouse Chef?

That folder is a beaut, Weasey. Want.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 20, 2009, 12:47 pm

Worse, Pups. Apparently, you can be arrested for carrying the knife I was carrying — under 3″ and non-locking. Any knife at all. But he wasn’t obliged to turn me in because it was under 3″ and non-locking.

So if we’d been stopped for something else and I had to empty my pockets, I’d’ve been nicked.

Horrible place, Croydon. We used to drive through it on our way from Uncle B’s place in SE London to the coast. He’d point out Lunar House and tell me that’s where the immigrants go. Brrrrr.

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 20, 2009, 1:10 pm

Maybe you should take up Cricket. Kind of tough to clean your nails with one of those bats though.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: May 20, 2009, 1:17 pm

“And my fingerprints? “In the permanent database” the helpful brochure informs me.”

Cool! I’ll look out for them on a disc left on a train, or bus, near me! 😉

“…Hampshire constabulary will probably scramble their helicopter.”

Unless the local travellers have been round to break all its windows, of course…

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: May 20, 2009, 2:16 pm

Apparently, you can be arrested for carrying the knife I was carrying — under 3″ and non-locking. Any knife at all.

This is madness!

Good thing you’re in the permanent database though. If they’d put you in the temporary one you’d just have to come back and do it all again.

Comment from Allen
Time: May 20, 2009, 2:33 pm

Well, since I’m roaring down memory lane anyway. I looked up where we used to live, Addington Village

If you scroll down you’ll see St Mary’s church. We used to cut through the graveyard to get home. Only problem, we had to climb on headstones to get over the wall. That Vicar was kind of mean. Hey, it wasn’t my fault the headstone was loose. It just fell over, I swear.

I suppose it’s all gone to the dogs now.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 20, 2009, 3:12 pm

Never been through Addington, but it’s far enough out from town that it might still be nice. Many places outside London but within commuting distance are owned by very, very rich people who work in the City. So driving out from town it goes from grim urban to lovely like the throw of a switch.

So, Allen. Are you a Brit or a Yank? I swear, it won’t change how we feel about you.

I swear.

Comment from Allen
Time: May 20, 2009, 3:24 pm

It’s worse than that Weasel, I’m a Californian. I guess I’m about to find out what it means when your state goes bankrupt.

We moved to England in the mid-sixties when I was still a lad. We left in the early seventies. It was kind of bizarre adapting from California to England then to North Carolina. That was a bit of fresh hell entering high school in Raleigh NC with an English accent.

Comment from cbullitt
Time: May 20, 2009, 3:26 pm

“In the permanent database,” eh Stoaty? That’s even better than, “My I see your papers please?”
On the plus side though, maybe it will work out like in Rollerball where they “lost” the Renaissance.

Comment from Bob
Time: May 20, 2009, 3:34 pm

When my daughter was in London a few years ago, she was offered a brand-new, still-in-the-grease, Beretta 9mm. SMG. As I remember the price was 400 pounds or so.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 20, 2009, 4:42 pm

That doesn’t surprise me too much, Bob (though that’s a pretty decent price for a new Beretta, isn’t it?). Our handyman in London told us he could get us a handgun, no problem.

That would, of course, mean instant deportation with extreme prejudice. But this place is much more porous to guns than they believe.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 21, 2009, 2:11 pm

Son was stationed at RAF Machrihanish when the U.S. Navy was still there. He made good friends with a couple in the nearby town, whose little boys were stunned and in awe to learn that Son carried a pocket knife (a dainty little Buck), and got his first gun when he was seven (Daisy BB gun), and a real shotgun (.410)—when he was ten. He explained that he was carefully schooled in gunmanship starting with the BB gun, but it was still a terrible shock for the parents and the children.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: May 21, 2009, 10:28 pm

I’ve carried one of those baby Swiss Army knives since high school, though mine’s black rather than the classic red.

Opens most computers quite nicely.

I see they now make them in translucent pink. Any knife that comes in pink should be street legal in a sane society.

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