From the Town Hall With Love


Why yes, this is how I normally dress for the office...He glanced over at the security guard.  From memory he couldn’t recall the guard’s name – Dave perhaps? – but he knew just how much of a serious problem Dave could be.  Dave looked out over the surgically clean foyer, his gaze easily and confidently surveying the scene before him, ever alert for potential threats or security breaches.

A cold bead of sweat made its way down his back as he assessed his options.  To run would draw attention to himself, and there was no guarantee that he would make it through the barriers before they crashed shut, trapping him in place or perhaps worse.  All other access points had been considered and reconnoitred in the past; all had been found secure and impassable – all that was left was a frontal assault.

With a suddenness that surprised even him, he began walking forwards, trying desperately to keep his gait easy and his step confident.  The urge to glance to the side was almost overwhelming, but he managed to focus on a small sign in the distance and restrict himself to no more than one step for every two pounding heartbeats.  Would he make it through the side entrance unscathed, unchallenged, unnoticed?

That was the moment he vowed to himself that this would be the last time he forgot his Council ID.

It’s easy to do – I wager that just about all of us have done it at one point or another.  This week I forgot my ID card, and was left faced with a day of spy-like activity as I went about my normal business.

Our Town Hall is quite security conscious.  I don’t think this is because it is any more at risk than any other Town Hall, more that it’s a wonderful way to pretend to show staff that you care about their welfare.  To get to our desks we have to go through two lines of security staff and swipe our cards through three entrances, and of course that’s before we even get on to IT security and the all joy that particular activity entails.

All of this means that a forgotten card is a bit of a pain.  I found myself loitering outside locked doors until someone came along, trying to look inconspicuous and therefore almost certainly standing out like Boris Johnson at a Snoop Dogg concert.  The common mobile phone is a great help here – standing looking at a screen means you look like a text sender rather than a potential sneak-thief, but it doesn’t guarantee that people come along to open doors for you regularly.

Thankfully I had a day planned that was pretty much at my desk, otherwise I would have been diving through open doors in the mould of a local government Indiana Jones or sneaking past security guards all day.

Admittedly I could have signed in to our visitor’s book and received a guest pass for the day, but that would have only gotten me past these guards and not helped out with the security doors at all.  Besides, if I wanted to receive the look of slight contempt and condescension which I would have no doubt received from our reception staff for having the temerity to be a tad forgetful I would instead have asked my wife if she had been busy while I was at work.

No, strange as it may seem it was far easier all round if I instead planned my day around synchronised toilet breaks with a random ID card holder, counted on managing to distract our security guards as I strolled past them and avoided all reasons to leave my desk unnecessarily.

After all, this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to being a proper spy.

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2 Comments on “From the Town Hall With Love”

  1. Ed Hammond Says:

    I have absolutely no idea where my ID badge is – there is no access control security doors in this building and security take a somewhat relaxed attitude to checking people’s passes in reception. It’s been a bit of a shock compared to some of my other places of work (or places I end up visiting – whenever I visit the Home Office for a meeting I have to take along my driving licence (provisional) because they demand that you take photo ID with your name and address on it).


  2. [...] if you’ll ever actually want to go back, and if you do how much do you need to be able to get past security by flashing your out of date badge? Will it really save that much time and energy?! There are some [...]


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