Security & Other Tails


There are those in life who are prepared, in that Girl Guide kind of way, for absolutely every eventuality. You can totally rely on them if you’re in a tight spot. One such dear chum is ‘Miss Poppins’, no matter what the occasion or venue she will have it covered, aside from the ‘basics’ of spare tissues, plasters, (waterproof, corn, blister or steri-strip), plastic rain capes and sufficient over the counter medical provisions to withstand any form of alien attack, she will often amaze us with the more unusual items. From out of a small and stylish handbag she has been known to produce a plastic wine cooler, wet wipes, anti-bacterial hand wash, a foil blanket, high heel protectors and on the occasion of a recent girlie trip to London, a selection of pastries complete with jams, serviettes…and a knife.

So once on the train, while the accompanying football supporters tucked into a breakfast of beer and whisky chasers- well it was 9:30 am, fair do’s- we chose from a selection of croissant and pain au raisin generously provided by said chum.

Once at Waterloo we raced, via the Jubilee Line, to Green Park and onto The Mall. There the crowds were huge due to some kind of major Army type Trouping of The Colour affair. We were reliably informed by a London Bobby that we had at least a half hour walk around the back of Buckingham Palace to join the queue to see the ‘Reign of Style Exhibition’, a display of HM fashions inside the Palace.

Time was short for our timed tickets. Miss Poppins was having none of it and we jogged it in 15 minutes while she had Buck House on the mobile saying not only were we on our way but that we should have been more reliably informed of the delay.
“ They must have known about this ages ago.”

While the rest of us caught our breath, (and one chum, I know was dying for a blister plaster but didn’t like to admit defeat), the invincible Miss Poppins stood tall in the queue guiding us through the airport type security, until…

“Oh my god I’ve got a knife in my bag!”

Now trust me these are not the words you want shouted out whilst in a crowded vestibule approaching security for entry to Buckingham Palace.
“Sssshhhh!” was all we could think to say.

Despite our collective hysteria as we approached the security guard dear Miss Poppins decided honesty was the best policy and boldly declared,
“I think you should know I have a knife in my bag.”

I attempted to soften the news by saying to him,” Well I guess you don’t hear that every day.” The security guard remained stony faced.
Not surprisingly she was ushered to one side while the rest of us were scrutinized rather more thoroughly than our fellow tourists. While my chum and I breezed through the security gate our other chum set off the metal detector. Eventually it was decided the cause was a bangle she simple couldn’t get off without surgery and her underwired bra.

On a separate table the contents of Miss Poppins bag had been tipped out and the knife, which far from a deadly weapon was in fact a tiny ineffectual blade that once belonged to her son complete with paw prints on the handle, was placed in a plastic bag to be collected at the end of our tour.

But in indomitable style Miss Poppins proceeded to offer the remaining pastries to the security team,
“There is jam if you’d like it’.

I had the strangest feeling that we were being watched all the way through the exhibition and staterooms…maybe not.

Anyway once the knife had been collected we were hot foot to the Wolsey for afternoon tea, all very lovely I might tell you!
It was a deliciously leisurely affair, people came and went but we four remained chatting and politely nibbling on delicate sandwiches, tiny cakes and warm scones for hours completely unaware that a certain person was waiting for a table.
There was a palpable buzz in the room as waiters scurried this way and that. Tracey Emin and male companion squeezed past our table, he tripped and said to my chum,
“ Oh my god, I’m so sorry I tripped over your dog! Did I step on its tail?”

All we could do was smother our laughter. The dog was in fact a pony skin handbag, a purchase made in Venice recently that my friend picked up and stroked. Poor little thing, it’s tail will never be the same again – come to think of it, neither will we!!

Sandra Pagan