History can be a strange thing. Sometimes the fate of nations have been changed by the most trivial things.

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Take, for example, the impact on US politics and world history of a lowly security guard doing his rounds at the Watergate building in 1971.

In Bermuda's case, one might consider the experience of notorious newsman Sam Donaldson and his ABC camera crew when they arrived in Bermuda in November, 1992.

Because they arrived unannounced, Customs officers were required to inspect all their equipment. The inspection lasted at least one hour -- some say more than four hours.


Take, for example, the impact on US politics and world history of a lowly security guard doing his rounds at the Watergate building in 1971.

In Bermuda's case, one might consider the experience of notorious newsman Sam Donaldson and his ABC camera crew when they arrived in Bermuda in November, 1992.

Because they arrived unannounced, Customs officers were required to inspect all their equipment. The inspection lasted at least one hour -- some say more than four hours.

At any rate, Mr. Donaldson was furious.

Tourism Minister the Hon. C.V. (Jim) Woolridge heard of the hold-up and went to the Elbow Beach Hotel personally to apologise. But Mr. Donaldson was not there.

Later, a concerned Mr. Woolridge telephoned Mr. Donaldson who said he was "not interested in discussing the matter, that his people were completely humiliated by the treatment at the Airport.'' Collector of Customs Mr. Gerry Ardis yesterday said standard procedure requires incoming camera crews to send their camera list to the Tourism Department so they could be "whisked through'' on arrival.

"Unfortunately, if I recall correctly, Sam Donaldson arrived with his camera crew unannounced. The officers had to take particulars of the cameras.

Sam Donaldson moved straight through, but his cameras had to be checked.'' The delay "wouldn't have been more than three quarters of an hour, at the most an hour.'' Of course, the hot-tempered Mr. Donaldson went on the produce a damning Prime Time Live expose on the US Naval Air Station, portraying it as the Navy's Club Med.

It triggered unstoppable Congressional calls for the shutdown of the base which eventually led to the decision -- over Navy objections -- to close USNAS by September, 1995.

* * * Had it been a new novel it would have topped Bermuda's best-sellers' list this week -- at least for our politicians.

Another Jackie Collins steamy romance? A Danielle Steele heart-warmer? Perhaps, even one of Dick Francis' gripping yarns? Well, not exactly. Rather the Constitution of Bermuda.

Politicians and Parliamentary pundits were dusting off their old copies this week, thumbing through the 90 yellowish pages of baffling, often impenetrable, prose.

The big scramble came after a hesitant Royal Gazette reporter phoned them to ask: "Is it true, under Section 38 of the Constitution, the Senate can delay the Independence Referendum Bill until next year?'' For the record, the responses were something like: "Well I never, I've just checked, and it does say that. Quite incredible.'' It may not be everybody's idea of a thriller, but the old Constitution certainly caused a few thrills for some this week.

* * * Just who is the assistant Police Commissioner? A reporter called Police headquarters this week for the correct spelling of the assistant commissioner's name. The officer who answered said it was Harold M-O-N-I-Z.

But the name didn't sound right. The reporter thought the man's name was Alex Forbes.

The officer said Alex Forbes was Deputy Commissioner. But there was another Assistant Commissioner. Acting assistant commissioner Wayne Perinchief -- P-E-R-I-N-C-H-I-E-F.

Acting? Yes for now. Perinchief's drawn from a pool of five Police superintendents, one of whom is eventually to be appointed by assistant Police Commissioner.

The other four are Supt. George Rose, Supt. Allan Bissell, Supt. Campbell Simons and Supt. Andrew Birmingham.

* * * Okay, okay, okay. Our March 6 notebook story was wrong in reporting Bermuda College had removed speedbumps so Royal derrieres would not be jarred during their lunchtime visit.

We got the wrong place. It was the City Hall that removed its roadbumps for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Yesterday, Mayor the Wor. Cecil Dismont said the Corporation takes out its speedbumps before every Royal visit.

"We did not want to shake her up at all,'' he said of their planning for the Queen's visit.

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Published Mar 25, 1994 at 12:01 am (Updated Feb 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm)

History can be a strange thing. Sometimes the fate of nations have been changed by the most trivial things.

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