Pride II

The pride and love I have for my country make me cringe in disgust when I hear the security announcements at the sleepy local station. Please report anything suspicious to a police officer or a member of the station staff. Why would a police officer be here? What like? Have they left a bag unattended? Maybe they put it down for a moment. Are they wearing a big coat to hide something? Maybe they have a thyroid problem. Are they avoiding staff and police?

Citizens! Study those around you with suspicion. Your prompt action could protect the Country we Love from Terrorists! Or, just turn it into Hell on Earth. See it. Say it. Sorted. The Dunning-Kruger effect in action- a police idea of a catchy slogan. Look, it alliterates!

Good to see them ticking the equality boxes. Terrorists can be female too! Or, the police informant with that large bag- is there a bomb in it? is not scoping her out to see if she is trans, but wondering if he can escape by drawing attention to an innocent passenger.

When I get to Tate Modern, there is a queue for the bag check. How dare they, really, how dare they poke and prod through my handbag? Why every single bag, making people wait? “Open the bag please” he says. Oh, fuck off. I do so with ill grace, and take my waterproof out on command. Then I go in to the gallery.

Here I can get into the holiday mood, relaxed, open, happy, in an instant, usually, but the guards and searching just ruin it. If I wanted to bomb an art gallery, where better than to run in and explode just where it is crowded, at that queue?

To the exhibition Art in the Age of Black Power. I much prefer this to “Queer British Art”- we queers were prosecuted and vilified, and most of that was suffering soft people oppressed by the authoritarian control freaks. Here I see Malcolm X portrayed in bright colour, a Prince, Black, Bad and Beautiful, a hero. Black people still get shot after being stopped for no discernible reason by traffic police- well, none of the gun death in the US is explicable to a European, all of it is abhorrent, but the racial prejudice in these killings is an additional dimension of vileness; and here people whose lives are under threat are Proud, standing tall and free. It is beautiful.

Sitting in front of that portrait I realise I am high on art and progesterone. It is a good experiment. My feelings are heightened, more immediate and more intense. And, usually when I am this out of my skull I am at home or with friends. I have to be aware of the possibilities of overreacting. That said, it’s a good feeling.

To the British Museum. Here, visitors are shunted round barriers so we slalom from the front gate to the side of the courtyard, even though there is no queue. Four security guards get us through, standing on a pedestal behind a desk so I must offer up my handbag.

It is lovely to see H. We see the Hokusai, wander off for dinner somewhere, and passing the Leicester Square ticket booth get tickets for An American in Paris, which is wonderful. By the third time I am resentful of having my bag prodded, but it is now a dull ache rather than anger. I am glad this is only occasional for me at the moment. It would take some of the joy out of life. I would hate to get completely accustomed to it, though.

5 thoughts on “Pride II

  1. Hi Clare
    I’ve just come home from a holiday in the UK and when at London Euston station I noticed the “See it. Say it. Sorted.” campaign (over the PA). Unfortunately, I did not write down the exact words and remember them only vaguely beyond the “See it. Say it.” catch phrase. In a short story I am writing I want to cite the security campaign but it is very difficult/impossible to find a transcript of it online (it seems that someone has file a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Transport… ). Does your blog post quote the PA announcement or did you refer to the posters?
    Thank you for helping me out.


    • Welcome, Anna. Thank you for commenting.

      Here are some station announcements, which give you the general drift. I have not memorised the wording, and find it hard to write without sarcastic exaggeration, but it is something like this: “If you see anything suspicious, please report it to a police officer or to a member of station staff. See it, say it, sorted.” I find it more unpleasant than the stentorian repeated “MIND- THE GAP. MIND- THE GAP.” on the Tube.


  2. Thank you, Clare, for the link and further info.
    I remember some of the content but not the exact wording. Your phrasing seems pretty close, though. Thanks, it should be close enough for my story in any case.
    And yes, it is definitely more unpleasant than the almost gentle hint at the gap. We do not yet have similar announcements in Swiss railway stations – but I wonder for how long that will be the case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What did you think of bag searches at museums and theatres? Londoners are already telling me they get used to it, the security guards hate it as well, they chat a bit to the guards. One does not like it at her work, though.


      • Ah, I don’t particularly relish bag searches either. But as long as they stay so superficial that they don’t detect the Swiss Army Knife a seasoned traveller always carries on her, I don’t really mind. (I stopped carrying in my hand luggage, however, the security guards at airports do not like them very much.) I think, it’s a thin line between security and privacy invasion; there is no need to search MY bag as I do not intend any harm to anybody or anythin (tell THAT the security guards at the V&A and the Scottish National Galleries), but as I do not know who else MIGHT … so is it really up to me to judge?!

        Liked by 1 person

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