The one with the Press Pass and the Cheese Sandwich

Passport? Check.

Tickets? Check.

Schedule? Check.

Sandwiches? Check.

Press Pass?

…Press Pass…!

Ah! That last minute checklist before you leave home – when you suddenly remember what you’ve forgotten.

Two train journeys (one of them from St Pancras to Brussels) were due to start in about an hour’s time, and I’d only just realised I hadn’t applied for the Press Pass I needed to get into the Belgian Holiday Fair, VakantieSalon, the next day.

After a few frantic emails sent to the organisers from the waiting room at Stoke station, I was still none the wiser. And a quarter of the way into my journey, with WiFi connection at a premium, I don’t mind admitting to more than a slight sense of panic: imagining what it would look like as I squeezed my nose up against the window of the Press Room, and tried to mime – Marcel Marceau-style – to the assembled Belgian travel journalists I was supposed to be meeting how I’d managed to leave myself on the outside, looking in.

But then, another email dropped into the inbox.

Nous vous remercions de votre intérêt et confirmons avec cette lettre votre presence comme journaliste à la 57e édition du Salon des Vacances du jeudi 5 au lundi 9 février inclus.”

French may not be my strong point. But even I could tell that it was good to have the word <<confirmons>> in the message.

But then came the next hurdle. The security check-in for Eurostar St Pancras…and that sinking feeling when your bag is pulled to one side, and you’re told it’s going to be emptied and checked item-by-item.

In truth, I don’t mind this at all. With nothing to hide, there’s something reassuring to know that they’ve identified something which clearly needs to be given the once-over. So out came the laptop, the chargers, the camera, the reading material, the cheese sandwich I’d made that morning, and the Ian Weightman Media Services pens I’m still trying to give away a year and a half after buying them.

Conspiratorial glances passed between “my” security officer, and the officer behind the screen who had asked him to take me to one side. Meaningful looks, which I assumed meant they were both now looking at the suspicious item. Eye-to-eye contact which I quickly interpreted as saying “Is that it”. And the look I received which more than suggested I am possibly the last person in the UK to put a slab of cheddar cheese between two slices of white bread.

Security clearance for my cheese sandwich aside, the rest of the trip proved to be a doddle.

The Press Pass was waiting, as “confirmons”. The number of Belgian travel journalists I met in the Press Room overlooking The Atomium in Brussels made it all worthwhile.

And the cheese sandwich was delicious.