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That Insecure Feeling

December 4, 2019

This blog was drafted over a month ago. Given recent events, it seems even more relevant now…

Rightly, insurance companies are insisting on them, and entertainment venues like to be seen to be doing them. Security checks. That long line of mostly white, middle-class, middle aged and elderly people standing in the rain outside, waiting for their big moment.

Reach the front of the line, a quick peer inside with a torch, grope of the bottom of a bag (which, as a wit on theatreboard.co.uk notes, always makes him want to turn his head and cough) and you are inside. A little luckier and a regular, they even dispense with the grope in favour of a friendly wave. What I may have strapped to my body under my coat (or just in a pocket) is another matter of course.

Quite probably they are doing something the public don’t know about, but there’s also a chance there’s as much showbiz going on outside the foyer as there is on the stage. Truthfully, I’m not all that convinced.

Back in 2017, just months after the terrible events of Manchester Arena, I was able to simply drift in through the doors at Wembley Arena and get to my seat without a single member of staff noticing, let alone asking for a ticket or requiring any search at all.

After the concert – which ironically I booked partly as a show of defiance in the wake of Manchester – I spoke to the venue manager. Mortification didn’t begin to cover his expression, and his thanks were profuse.

The London Coliseum’s duty manager behaved in similar fashion when the same happened a few months earlier. It’s good that they take it seriously, but still…

Back in May this year, as I documented, the O2 served up an even hotter mess. For those who didn’t read my reply to a blog reader at the time, what got me really angry was the whole admission system.

First, the signs at security that you put only phones and bags in the tray. That just slowed everything down as of course the metal detectors went off for everybody with keys and wallets of change etc. The security man even said that they keep asking for the signs to be changed and that, as a regular concert-goer I was right that I should have ignored the signs and done what I usually do and transfer everything metal into a Ziploc for checking as I wait in line.

He let me through, which was nice. Only thought was that it wouldn’t pick up one of those large plastic knives you can buy online…

Then, the ticketing itself was a JOKE. Got to the rope, holding my confirmation, credit card and photo ID as I didn’t have a smartphone. The woman just told me to go through and walk to a desk inside!!!! They weren’t interested in my ID or confirmation, but swiped my credit card and produced a ticket slip like at “Hamilton.” Now, did I mention that also like at “Hamilton,” they use a “dumb terminal” and the card I used was the one I booked with BUT I had cancelled it months ago?

Of course, as nobody read the papers I had with me, and I wasn’t watched as I went to the desk, I could have just got lost in the crowd and hung about before finding any old empty seat. I’ll remember that in future…

Much worse, I could still have been carrying a plastic combat knife undetected and run amuck – and the ticketing system would have no trace of me, would it…

A deterrent is a good thing, but a bad deterrent is breached quickly. Terrorists today are unlikely to be World War Two movie Germans fooled by inflatable tanks. The new breed scout and watch – and the holes become obvious very quickly, even to harmless herbivores like the monkey. So think on…

Oh, and just to add – the monkey recently found out that it’s also perfectly possible to print a “phone only” ticket without owning a smartphone to run the app on. You can just use your desktop or laptop computer – and, for those who like keeping ticket stubs after, you will have one for your collection.

So: what you need is a program that can turn your normal computer into a smartphone to let apps work on it. Free program www.bluestacks.com does just that, so download it. You can do it for Android or Apple. The monkey went with Android.

Use the “Google Play” or “Apple Store” app it comes with to go to the Google or Apple Apps store. You will need a Google or Apple account to download apps, but you probably have one anyway. If not, open one at Google.com or Apple.

Download the App the ticket company requires you to. It will appear in Bluestacks. You can then open the app on your normal computer, and navigate to your event ticket.

Take a “screen shot” of the ticket (hit the Ctrl button and Prt Scr button on your keyboard to do that). Then paste the screen shot into “Picture Manager” or any other bit of photo printing software you happen to have. Perhaps use the “crop” function to cut off the bits of the picture you don’t want and just leave the ticket. Then just print out the ticket (use “normal” or “fine” setting on the printer to ensure the colour is strong on the QR code the entry machine will read) and get it scanned on the night to get in.

Obviously, take a back-up with you on the night in case it doesn’t work for some reason, but so far so good for the monkey…

 

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