Just before I left for Thailand I was offered the opportunity to review a camera bag for a large retail site. I took an age to decide which bag would simultaneously be of most use to me as a workhorse for my trip and as a review model for Photocritic‘s readers. My deliberations led me to a Crumpler Jackpack and I dropped a note back to the retail site saying that if they could get me one before I flew, that would be super. To my disappointment (I’m a sucker for camera bags), they couldn’t get a bag to me, and I was left loading camera gear into my Lowepro Event Messenger at the last minute.
If you’re intested, the Event Messenger is great as a car-to-place-where-you’re-staying or carry-on bag for a limited quantity of gear: camera body, two or three lenses, laptop, and a few personal bits and pieces. It’s not so great for out-and-about shooting, however. It’s a bit too bulky.
What does this not-very-tale-of-woe have to do with a Victorinox Crystal pocket-knife, I hear you ask?
In my haste to pack up my gear, I overlooked that I’d left my pocket-knife in one of my camera bag’s myriad front pockets. Pocket-knives are pretty useful additions to camera bags, but not when you’re about to board a plane. Despite any number of reassurances that you’re a photographer and not a terrorist, security aren’t so thrilled by inch-and-a-bit blades in confined spaces.
Interestingly, I didn’t have a clue that I’d left it in my bag and it seems that when I passed through security at Heathrow, they didn’t have a clue that I’d left it there, either. No one stopped me, my bags weren’t searched, and I wasn’t asked to deposit it in one of those forlorn bins of useful objects rendered useless by the threat of terrorism.
And no one spotted it, stuffed between two hankerchieves and a some sanitary towels, when I switched planes at Muscat.
Little Victorinox Crystal sat undisturbed in my camera bag throughout my entire stay in Thailand. It wasn’t until I tried to get through security at Bangkok airport that somebody noticed it. I was pulled aside, asked if I had anything forbidden in my bag, and then asked to tip it out when I couldn’t answer in the positive. There it was. I was a agog.
Seeing as poor little Victorinox Crystal had made it that far, and I rather like it, I was incredibly reluctant to toss it into their ‘You are forbidden!’ bin. I asked if there were a post office at the airport. An unflinchingly stern gentleman who thought that he spoke better English than he did escorted me down a flight of stairs and behind a barricade to the post office. He was very good at telling me that I couldn’t take my little knife through security but very bad at understanding how it got there. When I said to him ‘You’ve not understood a word I just said, have you?’ he looked at me blankly. Or maybe he was just humourless.
Anyway, at the post office I needed to queue for longer than it had taken me to get through security, but it cost me the grand total of 41 baht (90 pence) to pop little knife in an envelope and mail it back to the UK. I had no idea if it would survive the trip or be halted by overzealous Customs officers or pinched by postal workers, but it was better to give it a chance rather than abandon it.
Errand complete, I climbed the stairs and attempted security a second time. On this occasion there were no unexpected hitches, but the queue was longer. I tried not to think about my poor little knife, my own absent-mindedness, and the lack of reassurance I felt from security at Heathrow. If it made it, it made it. I continued to try to forget about it, ten days after returning home.
This morning, a little damp and slightly rumpled, an envelope addressed to me in my own hand and with a Thai stamp dropped through my letterbox. Little knife was back!