Wednesday Pihlsen: The innocent terrorist
I have to admit that I have been arrested at an airport on suspicion of being a terrorist. That I tried to smuggle the explosives onto a plane to Copenhagen, with some of the consequences it entailed. It had said like this:
My heart-breaking adventures in the Danish mountains have gradually become quite well known, and in June 2006 I was at a large reception in Skanderborg on the occasion of the renovation of the tower at Ejer Bavnehøj. The purpose of a tower was to make a magnificent and beautiful view even more magnificent and beautiful, and thanks to the reunification of Denmark with Southern Jutland in 1920, the idea gained a foothold. Perhaps the people in Skanderborg were inspired by the people in the neighboring town of Silkeborg, who had perched high on Himmelbjerget? “We also want a tower?” Ejer Bavnehøj was already a sight to see, and a tower would increase the flow of tourists.
The tower was completed in 1924 after a competition which was won by the completely unknown and inexperienced architect Jens Laustsen. He also designed villas, summer houses, garages and annexes, which history has long since covered with a veil of oblivion.
But the tower still stands. Not that the professionals in the jury liked it, but the majority decided – and it had probably decided on a tower that could be seen from a distance. The tower was quickly nicknamed “Jutland’s chimney”, and the only occupational accident must have been a mason’s friend who overturned his bicycle, so that all the beer bottles in the box on the luggage tray were crushed. But if the Danes don’t like the tower, they have at least stopped hating it.
The tower at Ejer Bavnehøj, erected in 1924.
But then time passed, and gradually the tower began to wear down. Plaster sprinkled down on the visitors, and many bricks began to sit poorly, or worse, some loosened and fell down. Therefore, the association Ejer Bavnehøjs Venner had to carry out a renovation of the tower, and it was in this connection that I suggested that they could sell the old bricks for a hundred kroner each.
The Friends Association thought I was crazy, because who buys a brick for a hundred kroner when they cost fifteen in the shop? They allowed themselves to be persuaded to try anyway. Brick from Denmark’s tallest building must be attractive, I thought. There are only so many bricks from the top of Denmark to buy, I said. Take two hundred kroner for the finest, I said. I got it right. People went out of their houses to buy, and one Jutland bought enough to build a barbecue in his garden. The Friends Association received many thousands of kroner, a good grant for the renovation.
As a thank you for the idea, I received as a gift the very first brick they picked down when the renovation began, and this has been given the place of honor above the buffet, as it is called. The handover took place in connection with the reopening of the tower, which was of course marked with a Danish lunch, that is, lunch in good Norwegian.
On such occasions, the national dish, the age-old classic starfish, is often served. This is one boiled and one fried fillet of plaice on bread, topped with prawns, Limfjord caviar and asparagus, and therefore not the kind of shooting stars you light on New Year’s Eve. Shooting stars must be enjoyed with both beer and schnapps, and since I sat at the same table as the local police chief and at the time drove an easily recognizable rental car, I did not thank for the beer. He just laughed at me and put a bottle by my plate. I tried to explain that I was actually driving a car, then he just laughed and said: «But then you also have to have a small one». And put a glass of schnapps next to the beer. Fortunately, the event lasted long enough that I was well under the alcohol limit when I got behind the wheel on the way to the airport.
I packed the brick in my hand luggage and didn’t think about it any more, checked in and headed for the security checkpoint at Billund. I wasn’t completely alone, and when it was my turn, I hoisted the suitcase onto the belt and sent it through the X-ray machine as I cautiously strolled through the metal detector.
Documentation. Murstein 1. Set in the tower from 1924 to 2006.
I was about to pick up the suitcase again when the alarm went off, red lights started flashing, people pulled away and panic was just about to break out when four stout security guards came running. Four stout guards came charging towards me, presumably sons of farmers from the deepest Jutland, stout fellows who had abandoned a future as a potato farmer in favor of a position at an international airport. One of them grabbed the suitcase, another grabbed me politely but firmly by the arm and asked me to follow. The other two split up to be in the front to open doors and the back to lock after us. As I was led out of the security checkpoint, I couldn’t help but notice that absolutely everyone else followed the stage and probably noticed the guy that the guards picked up. You believe what people believe? That I was wanted by Interpol or something?
We walked along a fairly long corridor, at least fifty meters, then right, right again, then left, right and then I got out to tell, before we finally ended up in a room with metal walls. In the middle of the room stood a small table, also made of metal, and on that table they put the suitcase. Then they asked me to open it while they themselves retreated against the wall. I could clearly see that they were nervous, but could not understand why. Still, I shouldn’t be difficult, thinking maybe this was a practice or something, so I open the zipper slowly for fear of making some sudden movements that could be misunderstood. The further I pulled the zipper, the more nervous the guards looked, but when I opened the trunk lid and could reveal a brick from Owner Bavnehøjtårnet, all four heaved a sigh of relief. Whew. Just a brick. Ha-ha! It was nothing to be afraid of.
None of them could speak like that at first, but gradually the oldest of them regained the use of speech. A brick, he said, something I could confirm. He then explained that bricks were not allowed in the cabin, which made me wonder if they thought I was going to hit the pilot in the head with it?
They had to admit that it sounded rather far-fetched, then they explained that in the X-ray check this brick had turned out to be a solid portion of Semtex, a favorite explosive among terrorists and the biggest customer has been in Libya. Therefore, they had to believe the worst. A terrorist can very well look like a Norwegian writer or whatever. It quickly dawned on me why they had seemed nervous. They actually thought that I was a genuine terrorist who aimed to blow Billund into the sky, or blow up myself and the plane after it had taken off. They expected to be able to save lives in this side compartment, but that way they would save the passengers. No wonder they were nervous. No wonder they were relieved.
I had to explain how this is connected, and to start by saying that I have written a book about Danish mountains was a bad idea.
They didn’t believe me, because Danish fjell didn’t exist. Fortunately, I had a copy of the book a little further down in the suitcase, and when they had looked at it and leafed through it, they all laughed and enjoyed me telling more over a cup of coffee. I mentioned that I had plans to catch a certain flight, but I shouldn’t have thought about that. They had to make sure I made it to the plane, if they had to hold it back.
We had a long and pleasant chat, and I could tell them things about Denmark that they didn’t know. They could reveal that I had to go through a new security check at Kastrup, and there they would certainly not be as easy to deal with as the guys at Billund. Therefore, they revealed to me a secret passage that the airport staff use, and if I took it, I would appear outside the security control, roughly in the middle of the duty free area. It should turn out to be true.
I also got coffee as promised, but I had to wait until Kastrup for schnapps.
The Wednesday schnapps
To save energy, the Storting has decided to turn off the light at the end of the tunnel.