29th April

The Bomb Detectors

‘The technology really is amazing,’ said the Minister for Defence Procurement. ‘Once all our security teams are equipped with these devices, we will be able not only to save lives but also to speed up vehicle and body searches at checkpoints. It’s a win-win situation. Actually it’s a win-win-win situation because the Department will save money too, after the initial outlay.’

‘Extraordinary,’ said the Secretary of State for Defence. ‘And you say the technology was originally developed to locate lost golf balls?’ He chuckled. ‘Perhaps I might be allowed one for my personal use.’

‘I am afraid the golf authorities have banned them. They’ve ruled that they give an unfair advantage and encourage ungentlemanly conduct.’

‘Oh, quite right, that never occurred to me,’ replied the Secretary of State. ‘Now, seriously, you’ve seen a demonstration of these detectors in action, have you?’

‘I’ve seen the demonstration video, yes,’ the Minister said.

‘And how effective are they?’

‘They are ninety per cent effective up to a distance of one kilometre. This means, to maintain one hundred per cent security, we will still need our people to carry out inspections on one in ten vehicles, and one in ten people passing through checkpoints will have to be physically searched. But naturally the high visibility of the detectors will itself increase confidence among the general public, and act as a further deterrent to any would-be terrorists.’

‘Splendid,’ said the Secretary of State. ‘In your memorandum you advise buying six thousand of them. How much will that cost?’

‘Forty million dollars, including the consultancy commissions.’

The Secretary of State gasped. ‘That’s an enormous sum.’

‘Yes, but you must remember that once the equipment is purchased the only additional running cost is battery replacement. I estimate that the Department will save twenty million dollars on staff costs over the next ten years. Plus many lives, of course.’

‘Which must always be our paramount concern. The consultancy commissions, are they clearly shown in the accounting paperwork?’

‘No, they are what we call invisible earnings.’

‘I see. And when would we expect to be in receipt of the first of them?’

‘I have them here,’ the Minister said, tapping his black leather briefcase.

Reader: Charlie West
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
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