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<   No. 1908   2008-04-17   >

Comic #1908

1 {scene: On the tarmac at Glasgow International Airport. The plane is safely on the ground in the background. The man who saw the snakes on the wing is being wheeled away, restrained on a stretcher.}
1 Terry: We made it, safe and sound.
2 Steve: See Terry, I told you there was nothing to worry about.
3 Quarantine Officer: {approaching} Steve? I'm a quarantine officer with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. We'd like a word about some snakes.
4 Terry: "Nothing" being a relative term...

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I'm not sure I've ever had occasion to link to an official government site before, but the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, also known as Defra, is the branch of the UK government responsible for matters of quarantine for things imported into the UK.

The Scottish government apparently had its own department for such matters within its jurisdiction, but has agreed to delegate responsibility to Defra. The internal political arrangements between the member nations of the UK are always a bit opaque to me.

A reader writes: If Scotland had a department that handled matters of quarantine of imported goods, but then abdicated that responsibility to the UK's Department for Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs, does that mean the Scottish gave up that authority in Defra-nce to the UK's?

2018-12-05 Rerun commentary: Here's one of those little stories in the background which isn't drawn attention to in the dialogue in any way. The guy being stretchered off the plane is the one who saw snakes on the wing, then complained about them, but was not believed and was and restrained in a seat until landing. This echoes the story from The Twilight Zone on which this is based, in which the man is also carted off to an asylum after the plane lands. And this little background story isn't over yet...

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