May 2007
  Crime, Safety & Protection

A student who went on the rampage at Virginia Tech University has killed 33 fellow students. North Korean born Cho Son Queei shot two students at 7.30 am then went back to his dorm room, finished off making a video explaining his actions, mailed the video to NBC News then went on to kill another 31 students.
In his video to NBC Cho says that he was a victim and that he hated the rich Americans and their hedonistic life styles. He never claimed responsibility for his own actions; he just blamed every one else. At least he had the decency to shoot himself.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the dead students.

Much has been made recently of females working on the front line in Iraq. This has been brought to the fore because one of 15 sailors recently taken hostage by Iran was a female; she was a navy rating who is married to another sailor and they have a small child.
I personally believe that she has the right to do the job she wants, but now she is a mother I do not believe she has the right to make her child an orphan. Sounds a bit rich coming from me as I work in a male dominated environment and have been in danger many times but I am not a mother who has a child depending on me to nurture and love them.
I really do not believe we woman can have it all.

You arrive at check in and sometimes the line for the desk is longer than a new year's eve conga! So you put your bags on the floor and shuffle along until its your turn to put your suitcases on the weighing scale and be asked those questions that every traveller thinks is nonsensical. Did you pack these bags yourself? Did any one give you anything to carry for them?You look at the check in person with boredom, thinking do they really think I'm that stupid? But guess what? Some people are that stupiid. There are professional smugglers and pickpockets at nearly every airport in the world just waiting for someone who left their common sense at home.
When we go on holiday we tend to forget the usual security and safety measures we normally take for granted. Well, take it from me, whereever you go in the world someone will want to take advantage - if you let them.

Get on the plane, make yourself comfortable and chat to the stranger sitting next to you but do not tell them your life story or your exact address.If your house is supposed to be empty whilst you are away, make sure it remains that way.
Have a couple of drinks if it helps you relax, but not too much. Alcohol plays havoc with your body in the form of dehydration and I really hate the loud mouthed drunk who annoys everyone on the plane, gives the staff a hard time and ends up throwing up into the sick bag.

You have now landed and are waiting for your luggage.It's surprising how many people's suitcases look identical as they go around on the conveyor belt. I know I've thought a couple of times that I've seen my suitcase taken off by someone else but a quick check of the label confirms the name of the owner. With regard to labels, never write your full address on it, just put your house number and then post code followed by a telephone number. Should your suitcase go astray, the baggage handlers can trace you by the post code and it stops the opportunist burglar knowing your house may be empty for the next two weeks.

Once out of the airport you take a taxi. Is the driver being chatty when he asks if you are travelling alone or does he have an ulterior motive for asking? Probably just the first but never tell anyone you are alone. I always say I am meeting my husband at the hotel; that way no one knows you are on your own and perhaps a little vulnerable.
Check in at reception, grab your key and go to your room. After the porter has left, just wander down the corridor and find out where the nearest fire exit is: better to be safe than sorry.
If you are travelling on your own, ask the receptionist or concierge where to go and where to avoid; every city in the world has its dark spots, and you don't want to run into them.

You're on holiday so go out and have a good time but do not take your passport and all your cash with you, leave some in the hotel safe.
Pickpockets target holiday makers, especially in poorer countries where they think we have it all. In the rest of the world, again it's just about being sensible. For instance never leave your handbag hanging on the back of a chair in a café or restaurant: put it in your lap where you can see it at all times. Do not put your wallet in the back pocket of your trousers: use an inside pocket or buy a money belt.

Should the worst happen and you lose your passport, go to the local Police station and report it. Then, armed with the police crime number, look up in the telephone directory where the British consul is and take the police report and other ID with you.
The Consul can arrange for an emergency passport or a new one. Be prepared to pay a few pounds more than you do at home for your passport.
Too be honest most Consul staff are surly and think they are doing you a huge favour; remember they are Civil servants who have been posted abroad, they work for you. I have never found any of them to be much good except at arranging cocktail parties: not much help when you need a passport and possibly money. They will not loan you any unless you can give them a cheque with a guarantee card or someone from home arranges to send you some.
Nor will the consul be able to get you released if you get yourself arrested. He or she will visit you in prison eventually and do what they call a 'welfare visit ' but do not expect much else. In other words do not do anything illegal when you are abroad and you should be fine.
Never take drinks from a stranger especially if you are on your own and you have not seen the barman pour the drink. Iif you do, you may be subjected to a date rapist.They use a drug called Rohypnol or GHB. It is colourless, tasteless and odourless but after it is put in your drink you will begin to feel hot and have the need for fresh air.Your kindly drink buyer offers to take you outside and look after you; in reality he will take you outside and either rape you in a back alley or take you away in a car for others to use you.

Reading this you probably think "oh my god, I will never travel again, it's not safe". Of course it's safe and you can travel anywhere in the world, providing you keep your sensible head on, the one you use at home when travelling on the bus or train or walking around the shopping centre. Travelling is the greatest thing for broadening the mind. It lets us meet people whom we may not normally come across and it gives students and young persons the chance to explore experiences they might otherwise not have and to exchange ideas with like aged and like minded others.

I recently attended the premiere of a new film, Zodiac starring Robert Downey Junior and Jake Gyllenhaal.

ZODIAC opens in the UK on 18th May 2007

It is the ultimate cold case.

The rampage of a madman who has never been caught; the elusive cipher slayer who gripped the nation in fear, America's very own Jack the Ripper. He publicly claimed 13 victims, then more, two dozen more. Police pinned seven victims on him, five dead. The true body count may never be known. One thing is certain: that count includes the living.
Based on the true story of a serial killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area and taunted authorities in four jurisdictions with his ciphers and letters for decades, "Zodiac" is a thriller from David Fincher, director of "Se7en" and "Fight Club." Hunting down the hunter would become an obsession for four men, an obsession that would turn them into ghosts of their former selves, their lives built and destroyed by the killer's endless trail of clues.
Of the four, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) was the wild card.

So until next month stay safe
Jacquieline davis

The Circuit published by LUCKY PRESS
Available at &
Price US$14.95 ISBN 0 9713318 9 8

Available at &
Price US $14.95

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