'Nothing To Declare'

Despite the gradual decline of the British Empire, us Britons still excel at one task far greater than the rest of the globe: Queuing. As the old saying goes, an Englishman, even if alone, will form an orderly queue of one. We understand our place, never grumble (except for under our breath) and certainly wouldn't ever think of pushing in.

Even our patience, however, can be tested by airport security. You wait for an hour just to have the pleasure of removing every item of clothing, being roughed up by an over-zealous frisking, and then have to re-pack your own carry-on baggage. Delays are likely to become even more severe now that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 'Christmas Day Bomber', has demonstrated that it is still possible to smuggle explosives onto an aircraft.

Customs

Yet, for every worrying case of lapsed security like this - a situation that President Obama has branded "totally unacceptable" - let us not forget the many positive instances where security teams are performing excellent work. They are, after all, up against some inventive minds, as these examples demonstrate:

Flipping Disaster

In June 2005, Melbourne customs officials became suspicious when they heard "flipping" noises coming from underneath the skirt of a female traveller. An examination revealed that the Australian woman was trying to import banned tropical marine life, and had strapped water-filled bags containing 51 fish onto a homemade apron under her clothes.

Snakes on a Plane

No, not the awful Samuel L. Jackson movie. In Stockholm, Swedish customs officers arrested a woman who had tried to smuggle 75 live snakes in her bra. The officers were alerted when the woman kept scratching her chest.

Trouser Monkeys

When four exotic birds flew out of his suitcase at Los Angeles International Airport, Robert Cusack was immediately apprehended by customs officials. Upon further questioning, he rather humorously announced "I have monkeys in my pants." Two endangered pygmy monkeys were subsequently rescued from his underwear.

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Clayton Truscott

Clayton Truscott

Clayton is a comfortable traveller, having grown up in a small city that was far away from everything. He spent lots of time in the car as a child, driving up and down the coast of South Africa on surfing trips with his family. After studying abroad in the United States and spending a year working in London, he moved to Cape Town, where he completed a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. He now works as a freelance writer for various travel, surfing and action sports publications.