Archive for February, 2010


February 11th, 2010

MODEST air travellers are being assured that what is private will stay private when full body scanners are introduced to airports next year. The Government has stressed that only a stick figure would appear on the screen as passengers passed through the $28 million scanning machines, and not a naked picture. – source: The Daily Telegraph

    I’m all for safer flying, but ignoring the contrived corps de ballet pose, does anyone seriously believe that this photo depicts how we will appear under a scanner? Should we believe assurances that our body parts won’t show? There’s also the issue of radiation and health. And if you think your scan will be safe from public exposure, then what to make of what allegedly happened at Heathrow? BAA says the claims “simply could not be true”, stating that the scanners had no facility for printing images or storing them. So was it just a Bollywood publicity stunt?

    I think being sniffed by a trained dog would be far preferable, and prove more efficient in detection. Bring on the beagles!

Publish and be damned!

February 8th, 2010

Disappointment at editorial treatment is just one of the many “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that come with the job of being a freelance writer. So it was with a commissioned piece I penned for a magazine. After submission, the editor suddenly got his marching orders. The magazine has since been published – without my timely story. The explanation given is that “the book got thin” (ie: lack of advertising = fewer pages) and something had to go, my article! Given the time-conscious factor of the piece, the only riposte left for me is to post it on my own website. You can read it here: Vancouver in style

Pipes & drums

February 6th, 2010

I’ve become attuned to the sound of bagpipes. For the past week I’ve heard them swirling daily, first in rehearsal and then in performance at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which in its 60th year is being re-enacted about as far from Scotland as you can get. The Sydney Football Stadium, near where I live, has been transformed into a $1 million patch of the old country each evening, complete with rain squalls during the event just to add an authentic atmosphere. Invited to opening night, I was completely amazed by the spectacle, stirred by the sight and sound of the massed pipe band and overawed at the number of people who turned up to watch and enjoy – some 35,000 on the night I’m told, many from interstate. The show runs four nights.

It’s the second time the Tattoo has been to Sydney. The last time was in 2005, when it also bucketed down on those bearskins and kilts yet was watched by 150,000 people. Australia is the only country other than Scotland where this spectacular has been performed, a significance not lost on those watching, many of who probably attended five years ago. With a cast of about 1500, it’s a constantly entertaining and exceptionally colourful spectacle, run with expected military precision. Guest bands from as far afield as Norway, Switzerland, China and Trinidad & Tobago make it a truly international occasion. I’m going to miss the sound of the massed pipes and drums telling me it’s near bedtime …

Travel tip: The Diamond Jubilee Tattoo in Edinburgh takes place from 6-28 August.