Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 16 March 2014
How to pinch large objects
I've just been offered (by Amazon) 3 hours Military Vehicle Driving Experience, 16 miles from where I live, for a mere £79. I found myself actually considering taking them up on their offer, then I remembered the horrifying footage of a tiny, hand-launched Israeli missile turning a massive Syrian tank into a giant firework and put the idea behind me.
I am glad that either I didn't see that phosphor shell being used, or it was not invented in that form, when I was a kid. Tanks - in my little mind - were indestructible, and I often used to imagine myself inside one for security before I went to sleep. If I had realised they could be turned into super-heated mobile ovens for frying humans so easily, then I would have thought even twicer before joining the army.
Now what about that missing aircraft with 239 people on board? The general consensus seems to be that a pilot who was not suspected as having the potential for going rogue, might have done so, because it takes knowhow to switch off all but the most basic of tracking devices and it is very simple to hit the mayday button in a second.
It could be that the aircraft has simply been stolen but, like some car-thefts where the thief does not believe the yellow sticker in the back window which says, 'Baby On Board', the pilot may have only just noticed that the plane wasn't empty when he took off.
It is not as difficult to steal massive, valuable objects as you might think, and the aircraft could well be undergoing a re-spray in the Kazakhstan desert as we speak. What about all those passengers, though? Sold on as domestic slaves? If I suddenly notice a drop in price when I next go to the market, then I will suspect this is what has happened. Either way, I hope they are safe, well, and awaiting rescue.
I worked as a layout-artist for a printer in the 1970s, and in those days, all the graphics were done by hand and all the printing was done using huge, Heidelberg, off-set litho machines weighing about four tons.
I was speaking to a printer who worked in London one day, and he told me that he was just returning to his printshop after a half-hour lunch break, when he saw a large, flatbed lorry go past in the street, carrying the exact same model of printing-press that he used.
When he returned to his work-post, he discovered that the press he had seen was not only the exact same model, but it was also the exact same machine. Somebody had stolen it when he was at lunch.
In less than half an hour in the middle of the day, the thieves had entered the workshop, disconnected the power from the press, undone the huge bolts which secured it to the concrete floor, then moved it about 100 feet before picking it up and placing it on the lorry before driving away with it.
In those days, there was a huge demand for these presses in the African black-market, so the machine was taken to the docks with false paperwork, then sold for thousands in somewhere like Nigeria or the Congo. There is - I am told - even a black-market demand for full-sized airliners in the Congo, and the place is so mind-numbingly large that it is quite easy to hide them in the Heart of Darkness. For all I know, the place is so dark that they could probably throw in the passengers for a small consideration.
The best way to steal large objects is to do it in full view of the public, in full daylight and looking as though you have every right to be doing what you are doing. The last bit is helped greatly by wearing hi-viz, fluorescent jackets, or by carrying a clip-board.
Also in the 1970s, there was a large function in Bath's famous Pump Rooms. The few hundred guests were standing on two enormous, hand-made carpets which covered the vast area of floor where the function was being held.
Half way through the event, a few men entered the room and asked the congregation to all move onto one carpet, so they could roll up the other and take it away. The people did as they were asked and stood huddled on the one carpet, watching the men spend about ten minutes rolling up the other as they stole it and left the room with it under their arms to take it to a waiting lorry.
It isn't so easy these days because of all the CCTV cameras, but there aren't any cameras in the middle of the oceans and we have to rely on our natural enemies' willingness to share data gleaned from military radar equipment. That - it seems - is a lot to ask.