The Joy of Travel

Never put your email address on a Web page. I made this simple mistake and I’ve had my address ‘Harvested’ by the Nigerian 401 scammers.

A day doesn’t pass without an important message arriving in “De utmost importance and top secrecy” from someone on the dark continent, with a business ‘Proposition’ involving millions of dollars of government funds that my correspondent would like to launder through my bank account.

What’s worse, of course, is that for all the millions of these emails they send out, they catch thousands of gullible people, who make the entire exercise worthwhile for the fraudsters.

Coming through the Green Channel in Heathrow Terminal 3 on Sunday, I spotted a brightly dressed West African woman being marched off to a cubicle by two burly female customs officers. Their male colleague was busy unpacking two giant suitcases, which contained hundreds of boxes of Benson & Hedges cigarettes. The haul was so enormous in fact that those of us walking past exchanged comments and disbelieving looks. Mind you, this particular ‘Mule’ was probably a decoy and behind her there must have been others carrying contraband even more valuable than cigarettes.

I dread travelling through Terminal 3 if only because the chances of catching something nasty from the African or Indian subcontinent on the way through are quite high. On this occasion, it was a virus I contracted on the way out to the Middle East on Friday, which eventually landed me in Kingston hospital yesterday morning, if only because my own surgery couldn’t arrange an appointment for another week and sent me along to casualty, where the wait was over four hours.

Unable to wait four hours and not feeling particularly well, I called-up the local BUPA hospital and had an appointment with a consultant thirty minutes later. Was it worth a hundred pounds? I don’t know but probably yes and to the benefit of all those people in Kingston Hospital who I might have shared my virus with in the standing only waiting room.

It all rather makes one wonder what would happen if one had caught SARS. “Sorry sir, the next available appointment with your own doctor is in a week or you can go down to casualty and spread it around a little if you like”.


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