File image of access to security zone at Malaga Airport. / SUR

Check point right Charlie

He frowned towards the scary policeman and uttered a phrase that chilled my blood. 'This one's positive.'

Peter Edgerton
PETER EDGERTON

It might have been the sight of the gun or it might have been the gimlet-eyed gaze of its owner which first caused my bottom lip to tremble, it's hard to say, really. Anyway, one thing was undeniable - a member of the Guardia Civil (the scary Spanish police) was heading in my direction with, apparently, little intention of making small talk. In fact he had little intention of making any talk at all, just flicking his head towards a stern-looking woman to his right wearing rubber gloves. This wasn't good. I should have just let my trousers fall down like any other sentient soul in the same circumstances but it was too late now.

Foolishly, you see, I'd not removed my belt when going through airport security, a misdemeanour which had caused that beeper thing to beep. No problem - I'd just take off my belt and walk through again as instructed.

'Beeeep!'

And again.

'Beeeep!'

At this point the security guard took me to one side and brushed me down with an odd-looking electronic device which took the beeping to another level. He frowned towards the scary policeman and uttered a phrase that chilled my blood

'This one's positive.' Zikes!

As my thoughts turned to the film Midnight Express and whether or not that hippie next me on the bus in Barcelona had slipped some contraband into my pocket for reasons unknown, I shuffled over towards Rubber Glove Woman who proceeded to scan my hands with her own state-of-the-art electronic device before plugging it into a machine which would, presumably, tell her whether I was an international narcotics dealer or not. The tension was palpable. She peered at the screen looking to glean the relevant information while I peered at her face looking to glean the relevant information and several onlookers peered at me and the policeman quite clearly hoping to glean a photo of a bewildered middle-aged bloke being unceremoniously handcuffed and carted off to a nearby holding cell, bottom lip by now quivering like a blancmange in a minor gale.

The woman eventually looked up at the policeman and shook her head very slowly indeed. What did that even mean? Was I guilty or free to go? As it happened, it was the latter. The policeman flicked his head towards the boarding gates (he wasn't a great conversationalist) and I hitched my trousers up and scuttled off to count my lucky stars and put my belt back on, not necessarily in that order.

Quite how I resisted the urge to yell 'Freedom!' in the manner of Mel Gibson in Braveheart, I'm still not sure.