Government health warning: possession of a fake cigarette can be almost as hazardous to your health as being a Brazilian tube passenger
You may remember that on Thursday a section of the M6 motorway in the Midlands was closed, and armed police surrounded a coach in which a man had been seen "pouring liquid into a bag which was smoking". When I heard the story I mentally nicknamed the suspect the "Pot Noodle Bomber", as his wicked act of bowel-loosening terror sounded like someone with a flask of hot water and an instant snack meal. When nothing more was heard about the incident (usually a sign of egg, or pot noodle, on official faces), I thought it was probably worth digging around.
A search for "coach M6 smoking liquid" turns up dozens of reports of the police swoop, though only the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Channel 4 and Yahoo seem to have followed up with the information that it wasn't even a sinister Pot Noodle but one of those electronic "cigarettes" that nicotine addicts use. (Actually that's just a feature of Google: the old headlines now link in most cases to updated stories. The Daily Mail has a good report on it. So does the Daily Mirror.)
The Sun, however, is sticking with pretty much its original story. Even its "updated" report fails to mention the electronic cigarette (though it links to a Sky TV video which does). It still tries to link the story to the arrest of terror suspects in London. "There were fears that the incident could be linked to six terror arrests that were carried out in London this morning. Staffordshire Police later said the incident was not being treated as a terror-related incident." (My emphasis.)
Now the six Londoners may turn out to have been arrested for possession of nicotine patches: nicotine is after all a highly potent toxin with which they might have planned to slaughter the entire population of London, and not so long ago six Londoners were arrested for trying to poison Londoners with ricin which never even existed. Imagine what wicked Moooslims could do with a box of Nicorette patches: my God, it doesn't bear thinking about. However, unless that IS what they were arrested for, their connection to the man on the bus seems tenuous at best. Unless...unless....I wonder whether the passenger who aroused suspicion had brown skin? A turban, perhaps? Bearded? Hmmm...can I ask the audience, Chris?
On Friday the Telegraph published this column by Matthew Norman which sums up the whole ludicrous business.