Saturday, September 30, 2006

Back From Crete.

Okay, I’ve just been on holiday yet again (but I was writing stuff on the beach, and not in the sand) and, as before, I wasn’t going to announce that fact here to the Internet-cruising burglary community.

I wondered what it would be like in the airport, after recent events. We arrived early at Gatwick check-in and there was no queue at all. Wonderful. Then we saw the vast mass of people slowly tramping towards hand-luggage scanners. Having seen and read the signs, we had already removed all potential liquid explosives from our hand luggage, all pointy objects and all cigarette lighters. Coming up to the scanners we then found we had to remove our belts and shoes so they too could go through the scanner. While this was occurring, I noticed a chap in uniform having to go through the same process and wondered if the set of wings on his uniform jacket might be considered a dangerously pointy object. Obviously pilots as potential suicide bombers are more dangerous than, say, pilots who might feel inclined to make a short diversion to drop their plane on Canary Wharf.

On the way back from Crete we again carefully put all potential liquid explosives, lighters and pointy objects in our main luggage. Greek security pulled me over, pulled on gloves (thankfully only as a precaution against the skiddies in the case) then after a brief search ordered me to return all my cigarette lighters to my hand luggage.

Funny old world.

Time for another medical rant. Anyone who suffers from acne rosacea will know what miniocin minocycline capsules are. They’re the pills that can stop your face breaking out in postules or taking on the jolly red glow of a bottle-of-whisky-a-day Santa. In Britain, you need a prescription for these capsules and then have to pay the prescription charge of £6.95 for 14 of them. Guess what? In Greece you can buy a pack of 12 of them over the chemist’s counter for about 4.60 euros – about £3.00.

This turns me to thoughts of other inequities. Set up a still in Britain and Customs & Excise will be kicking down your door and pinning you to the floor with the barrel of an assault rifle in the back of your head. In Crete the national drink is raki (not ouzo, surprisingly) and it is not produced by big corporations but by little, unregulated family concerns. Perhaps this continues because of the Cretan attitude towards central government in Athens. In mainland Greece gun control is very strict, almost British. In Crete, if government rules go contrary to custom, they are ignored. Just about every family has illegal firearms, which they fire into the air during celebrations. Perhaps we should learn from this: perhaps if we all had guns in our houses nanny government would be reluctant to interefere in our lives.

10 comments:

Rasselas said...

In the U.S., the last is disparaged as "the right to treason" by some constitutional scholars and lauded as "the foundation of liberty" by the relevant lobbying groups.

By the way, I have enjoyed "Cowl" and the Cormac books enormously. So much so that I've ordered the last several from Amazon UK, rather than suffer the delay in publication in the U.S.

E.Jim Shannon said...

Gun control.

Shudder.

You opened up a whole can of worms here Neal. In Canada we've been subjected to this gun registry boondoggle which could cost billions and has already cost a considerable ammount of tax payers money I'm sure you might have read about the shooting in Montreal earlier this month which has sparked the gun registry controversy again. I'm split on the issue myself.

glad you enjoyed your vacation.

Ed S. said...

Unfortunately every bullet fired into the air has to come down again and it does so at a pretty good clip occasionally landing on someone's skull. I remember watching a news report years ago where the reporter was commenting on the number of people randomly killed in the city he was reporting from because of all the firing into the air, especially during celebrations when large numbers of people were out in the streets.

Yes I suppose that if we all had guns I wouldn't be worrying about the government any more. Instead I'd be spending all my time worrying about my armed to the teeth wacko neighbors.

foreverwar said...

Hope you had a nice holiday, and your batteries are recharged. I've read all your Cormac books (except Polity Agent, which is on order from Amazon, along with The Voyage of Sable Keech) and The Skinner, and just about to start Prador Moon.

Keep up the good work.

Remind me - is it the right to bear arms, or to arm bears?

Alex Cull said...

I worked in mainland Greece for a while some years ago and have drunk home-made ouzo (made by the family of some students taught by a friend of mine)- whew, it delivers a far bigger kick than the commercial stuff. Haven't been to Crete yet and tried the home-made raki... Must do that, some time.

colin m said...

Giving everyone a gun might decrease the potential for violence, but doesn't that assume that people are rational?

Mark Croucher said...

Funny how people can interpret your tongue in cheek remarks as a matter of fact, and that you want to arm the masses of Blighty if not the world.

Think I might have an amusing Saturday......

Kirby Uber said...

ah. i didn't expect the holiday angle. 8) glad to hear it. 8)

NovaWasp said...

Here's the thing:

I can load a shot gun faster than the police can get to my house. You will never get all of the guns. Only the ones that owned by innocent law abiding folk, who are now defenseless. I'm never afraid of a politician that isn't afraid of myself being armed, but one that wants to take that right away from me...

Shots fired straight up are not dangerous as they do not maintain their trajectory and fall back to earth at their terminal velocity which is by no means lethal. However, bullets fired at an angle (even a slight deviation from 90 degrees) are very much lethal. Only an idiot fires into the air.

rasselas, you'll find that when you receive your books they are labled for sale in the UK and Canada. However, the Amazon.ca shipping rates to the US are much better as they are the same amounts but in Canadian dollars. So you win in the exchange. I paid 12 pounds for 3 books. I would have paid 12 Canadian :).

I love Hollidays. Although, I drank way too much at the open bar parties at the US GP considering I was going to be in 90+ (F) heat the next day at the track.

now, Less fun. More typy.

Neal Asher said...

Rasselas, government gradually eats away our freedoms and gathers power to itself, that's what government does. It only returns it reluctantly and then only under threat of civil disobedience.

Glad you enjoyed Cowl and the other books. Still producing them.

e.Jim, responsible adults should be allowed to possess guns for self-defense in this world. The trouble is that government doesn't believe in the concept of the responsible adult (only control). I'm not sure if I do either. There are too many arseholes in the world, except me - I should be allowed an AK47, a couple of handguns, some grenades ... maybe a missile launcher...

Ed.s, I rather suspect your chances of hitting someone on the head that way in a Cretan village are substantially lower than that person being struck by lightning.

Your wacko neighbours will probably be armed-to-the-teeth anyway. Government legislation only disarms the law-abiding.

Foreverwar, in Muslim countries the women would like the right to bare arms.

Alex, I tried just one glass of raki (rather different from a long ago Turkish holiday when I acquired the nickname Raki-Jackie) and it burned. Rather like whisky really - apparently the good stuff goes down smooth.

Colin m, a lot of people ain't rational. The problem is that a large proportion of the irrational ones seem to be running Britain.

Mark, well I'm and author, so everything I say is deeply serious (choke, giggle).

Needed, Kirby. Needed.

Novawasp, there's this classic bit from Terry Pratchett's 'Night Watch':

"Confiscate all weapons and crime would go down. ... Amazingly, quite a few weapons were handed in. The flaw, was one that had somehow escaped Swing, and it was this: criminals don't obey the law. It's more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest in making the streets safer for anyone except themselves. And they couldn't believe what was happening. It was like Hogswatch every day."