Monday 18 December 2017

Sometimes it pays to play the Paddy

There are benefits to this terror-conscious age, especially when you leave a bag unattended, writes Nicky Larkin

Nicky Larkin

There's a time and a place for racial profiling. But only if you happen to be white and in a hurry. But God (or Allah) help you if your flight's on time, and you've a beard and a backpack.

It used to be just us Paddys getting stopped and questioned on the way into Stansted. But then the London bombings happened in 2005, and all suspicion suddenly shifted from the Spud-Heads to the "Rag-Heads", as Prince Harry famously called them. Interestingly, the majority of those 7/7 suicide bombers were black and not Arab. But religion and race got confused in the muddled minds of morning commuters, and nobody wanted to sit beside those bearded Arab fellas on the tube anymore. Especially if they had backpacks.

A year after the bombings and people were still on edge. You couldn't find a bin for love nor money in Liverpool Street station, for fear of deposited explosives. Armed police patrolled tube stations with a new 'stop and search' policy. Everybody kept gawking at those bearded Arab fellas -- they were the ones getting their backpacks searched. And still nobody wanted to sit beside them.

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