Letters From London
Humorous Views on London Culture, Royals, Gossip and Politics
Naked Ambitions - 15 October 2009

“Oi Bob, Ian, Frank. Take a look at this one.”

“Blimey! That beats my last one by at least three inches!”

“Do you think he’s a porn star?”

“Dunno. But I’ll be checking it out now. This opens up a whole new world.”

“I’m with you, Bill.”

Get naked - without taking your clothes off. Manchester airport has decided to back the fervour
of the government to create a fascist state while we are told to busy ourselves reporting on
terrorists moving in next door, selling us our newspapers, working at the till at Tesco Express.

The airport has installed whole body scanning X-ray machines for the next year to replace pat
downs and shoe removal. Personal contact in an impersonal environment just got very personal.

Managers at Manchester Airport acknowledged that 'the machines highlight breasts and genitals'
but insisted that the resulting images are neither pornographic nor erotic. One member of staff
saw it differently: “It does not leave much to the imagination."

“How are the ‘brazilians’ doing so far today, Georgie?”

“Four hundred and thirty eight so far. You?”

“Ouch! Six hundred and twenty one. You’re buying tonight.”

All this intrusion into our private and public, pubic life by authorities who live in another reality –
theirs – is reaching critical mass.

Dressed on CCTV, naked on airport surveillance; they can record us, but we can’t reciprocate.  
You can find yourself facing a10-year prison sentence or a fine if you deliberately or
inadvertently photograph a cop or members of the armed forces or intelligence services… your
own children playing, MPs or their dogs, Gordon ‘smiling’….

Exhibitionists will rack up more air miles: “I’m beginning to see the appeal of Manchester.”
Couples could be in for a shock: “You have breast implants?” “You have a tattoo
there?”
Paedophiles will be thinking it’s their dream job: “I have to pinch myself every day.”

I don’t want to be subjected to ‘safe’ X-rays, to a group of men I don’t know sitting in a little room
in a ‘remote location’ seeing me naked, I don’t want my image to be put on YouTube, I don’t
want my naked self image to ‘get lost’ on the tube, I don’t want the government to add me naked
to the database where they already know every detail about my life.

Other than the obvious violation of privacy and autonomy, this year-long trial is already pointless.
The latest suicide bomber modus operandi where the bomb will be placed inside the body is
undetectable with these £80,000 X-ray body scanners. But for the ‘ifyouhavenothingtohide’
contingency, saving 20 minutes on a queue is well worth the invasion. The plane won’t be
departing 20 minutes sooner. I suppose it all comes down to the over-used ‘dumb and dumber'….