Published: 27/01/2014 17:19 - Updated: 27/01/2014 17:47

Ross haggis sparked airport bomb alert

Written byJackie Mackenzie

Ian Blake, keeping his distance from that suspect haggis - just in case. Picture: Gary Anhtony.
Ian Blake, keeping his distance from that suspect haggis - just in case. Picture: Gary Anhtony.

STAFF at an airport were left red-faced after they hauled a Ross-shire man out of a security line for having a "plastic explosive" in his hand luggage.

However, the "bomb" being carried by Ian Blake turned out to be the harmless chieftain o' the pudding race - a haggis which he was taking as a present to a friend.

What airport staff failed to notice was that Mr Blake, a keen kilt-wearer, was also carrying a sgian dugh, the knife work as part of the traditional Highland dress.

Mr Blake, a well-known local novelist and poet, had been flying from Inverness to Dublin. He had to catch a connecting flight at Birmingham and it was while going through the scanner at that airport that security staff got excited over the MacSween’s of Edinburgh haggis.

Mr Blake, a former English teacher of Melvaig, near Gairloch in Wester Ross, explained: "I was going to visit an elderly friend in Dublin recently and as she is originally from Edinburgh I thought she might like a MacSween’s haggis as a taste of home.

"I was only going over for two nights so I just had one small bag. As I was going through the scanning device, airport security staff pulled me out of the line and said ‘We think you have a suspected plastic explosive in your luggage, sir’.

"Then they took out the haggis and started examining it. I don’t think it was the plastic wrapping that was suspect, I think it was the actual consistency or denseness of our national dish.

"Maybe they thought I was disguising plastic explosive as a haggis?

"When they read the labelling and so on they realised that it was just a sonsie haggis and I was allowed to go on my way. I think they were a bit embarrassed. I thought the whole thing was highly amusing but security staff are usually pretty po-faced and they didn’t really see the joke.

Mr Blake, who often wears the kilt, was also carrying a sgian dubh, a knife, through the airport - but security staff feared the haggis more. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Mr Blake, who often wears the kilt, was also carrying a sgian dubh, a knife, through the airport - but security staff feared the haggis more. Picture: Gary Anthony.

"The ironic thing was I was also carrying my sgian dubh. It was inside a pair of shoes in my bag. I thought the scanner might pick up the metal on the sgian-dubh but it didn’t. It was just the haggis that they thought might be dangerous."

Mr Blake was so amused by his experience that, in the custom of the Bard Rabbie Burns, he felt moved to write a poem about it: "On Being Hauled Out of the Line by Security at Birmingham Airport".

Added Mr Blake wryly: "Perhaps with the independence vote coming up this year, English airport staff will now start stopping people for carrying other dangerous Scottish icons such as the thistle.

"They might want to banish our national flower as well as well as our national dish! But in this day and age I think scanners should be able to recognise the sonsie face of the haggis."

Read Ian Blake's poem about his encounter below:

WEE slekit, cow'rin Security beastie

Whit a panic's in they breastie

Ye think my baggie safely stowed

In y're aircraft will explode?

I tell ye man, ye'll niver've seen

A bonnier haggis from MacSween!

Does England wish to banish our

National dish or national flower?

As for that sir, you can whistle -

Offensive weapon Class III thistle

A well-trained terrorist could kill

With a Class IV daffodil

So stop that Welshman! Bind him tight!

His leek's a stick o' dynamite

Hold on Paddy! Think we're dumb?

Y're shamrock's nothing but a bomb

That Italian. Don't forget he

Disguises cordite as spaghetti

Never let a Frenchman pass

Don't believe it's Foie de Gras

That turban there. Arrest him, hurry!

It's nitro-gylcerine nor curry

Such Sasunnach madness is no sudden

Yon Cromwell banned the Christmas pudden

Ye powers that mak mankin, ye can

Surely ensure a future scan

Will recongise thy sonsie face

Great chieftain o' the pudding race!

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