I wrote recently about the automatic responses from WordPress when you publish a blog post, and how one of my posts was greeted with:
In the comments to that post, it was suggested that perhaps this was intended as an imperative, but I assure you I am not responsible for the story that prompted this blog post.
The original headline that is referred to comes from hoy.es and reads: Una poesía provoca una alerta por bomba – ‘poem causes bomb alert’ – a news story from Badajoz earlier this week. If your Spanish is up to it, please go and read the post on quadernodenotas, if not, you’ll have to make do with my hurried – and somewhat ‘creative’ – summary.
At the end of the morning, a package arrived for the Department of Publications. It had been a dull morning and this was just one more innocuous plain brown package that was run through the scanner as part of routine procedure.
That’s when the fun started, as the scan showed that the parcel contained cables y componentes electrónicos.
No one knew why the Publications Department might be the target of an attack; there were no sender’s details, but that only made it more suspicious as, even in Badajoz on a sleepy Tuesday, they realised a bomber probably wouldn’t make things easier for the authorities by including a return address, whereas the general public usually have no such qualms.
Routine procedure is routine procedure, though, and once you’ve started, you really have to keep following the steps as laid out in the handbook. So, after the section on protocolo de seguridad had been consulted, the national police were called. And then, this being Spain, the local police were called, too.
They looked at the package. And at the space where the return address should have been. And they looked at the image on the scanner screen. Then they decided to keep following procedures:
The offices were evacuated, and so were the neighbouring buildings. The plaza del ayuntamiento was cordoned off. Which meant bringing in extra police to keep an eye on the gawkers who were spending their lunch hour hanging over the “no cruzar” tapes.
The fire brigade were called. An ambulance was brought in just in case.
And then they called in the bomb squad, who arrived with sniffer dogs and full bomb detecting and dismantling equipment.
The crowd waited in the sunshine, craning their necks to try and see what was happening.
A few hours later, the ambulance drove away. No lights flashing, and no siren sounding. The firemen walked back to their fire engine and got in, chatting casually among themselves, but not loud enough for the crowd to hear, however hard they pushed and jostled.
The sniffer dogs and their handlers came out, followed by the very hot-looking bomb disposal crew, loosening their padded body armour and chuckling quietly.
The police came out and started to wind up the ribbons and allow the crowds access to the square – only, this being Spain, they weren’t allowed into the council offices as those are only open in the mornings.
People were chattering and whispering and wondering. And a rumour started going round: it wasn’t a bomb, it was a poem. And it had caused all that palaver without anyone even reading it.
And, that, dear readers, is a true story.
In the actual news story, it turned out that the package was an entry for the ‘Experimental Poetry competition’ being organised by the town hall. I really hope that it wins. At the very least it deserves a special mention.