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If libel writs are the Oscars of this business, then the laptop bag is the fridge magnet

Well that's it.

Andy Murray trudges out of Wimbledon last summer. Not even winning the title could make up for being told that the laptop bags were for the media only.Picture: Getty Images

I'm in. I've completed the forms, signed the disclaimers, agreed to the protocols and submitted the 20-year-old passport photographs.

The paperwork has all been done. I am now a fully accredited member of the media covering the XXth Commonwealth Games.

The final part of this labyrinthine/Kafkaesque registration process took place at the SECC on Monday. Now I've never actually attempted to escape from Guantanamo Bay, so I can't speak with any hard-won experience, but I suspect that to do so would be a whole lot easier than trying to negotiate the ring of steel that surrounds the main media centre in Glasgow.

I'm told that a laminated pass and a quick bag-check is all that will be needed to get back in there over the next couple of weeks, but I'm still tempted to take tunnelling equipment and grappling irons, just to make sure.

In fairness, these processes have become pretty much standard at major sporting events over the past couple of decades. To begin with, it was all about weeding out the chancers who just fancied watching a bit of sport for free (apparently this is a bad thing) but, post 9/11, the focus swung round to identifying bug-eyed jihadists and suchlike.

Before September 2001, all you had to do was provide reasonably credible evidence that you were, indeed, a sports hack - haggard expression, chronic halitosis, calamitous personal life, that kind of thing - but afterwards things became trickier. Suddenly, we were being asked if we wanted to overthrow the government of the United States. And we soon found out that "who wouldn't?" was not the recommended reply.

All of which tested the patience, forbearance and level-headedness of people who have never exactly been renowned for those qualities. For as inconvenient and infuriating it often is to have to jump over administrative obstacles and leap through security hoops just to get in, it is still a heck of a lot easier than trying to cover something you've not actually seen. And besides, there's always the bag.

If libel writs are the Oscars of this business, then laptop bags are the fridge magnets. They trace your movements in a been-there, done-that, got-the-bag kind of way.

Sign on at an event of any stature, and nine times out of 10 you'll be given one emblazoned with the competition logo. Believe me, I have a pile of the things in the loft. Anyone got a nipper starting school next month? Now I'm not being ungrateful, but I've never quite understood this enthusiasm for handing out bags. As a rule, I try to ensure that I am well-furnished in the bag department beforehand, and usually pitch up with one of my own rather than pushing my belongings along in a wheelbarrow. "Oh, how generous," I still say when the thing is handed over. "I'll just put this nice bag in my, er, bag."

Just to add to the absurdity of it all, it is a faux pas of magisterial proportions to use your new bag at the event you are actually covering. It might have been crafted from carefully selected Bhutanese goatskin and hand-stitched by Louis Vuitton's finest leather workers, but you would be inviting scathing derision from your colleagues to put it to immediate use. "Oh, how awful!" they would exclaim. "You're using the bag! Did you come here with a wheelbarrow?"

It goes without saying that Bhutan's goats have not been significantly endangered by the production of media laptop bags. There is no polite way to put this, but they (the bags, not the goats) are typically not of the highest quality, and have a useful life that can be counted in days rather than weeks.

Amazingly, the BBC commentator Bill Johnstone still carries one he was given as the 1995 Rugby World Cup. His colleagues now gaze at this museum piece (the bag, not Bill) in wonder and awe.

Of course, the receipt of the bag is only the first part of the process. After a polite interval, and having removed yourself a discreet distance, there is then the frantic search through the dark recesses of the bag for anything remotely useful that the organisers/sponsors may have popped inside.

For the record, the Glasgow 2014 bag contained a pen and a miniature of whisky. The whisky, according to the nice lady at the reception desk, is for that flashpoint moment when the pressure of covering the Games all gets too much. Remind me, what time is Rod Stewart due on?

Both pen and whisky appear to have been donated by event sponsors. Now I have no principled opposition to the misuse of public funds for the benefit of passing sports hacks, but I thought I should throw that in for those who have. They might also be comforted by the tragic fact that the golden age of bungs and backhanders is long gone from the scribbling business.

Time was when golf was that golden trough. The golf writers lived charmed lives, for they typically returned from tournaments with twice the luggage they took there. The late Dai Davies, for many years golf correspondent of the Guardian, once told me of an event in the early 1980s where the organisers showed uncommon generosity even by the standards of those times.

"Full set of clothes," recalled Dai with relish. "Including underpants." As Dai was quite a few portly pounds north of 20st, it was not an attractive image.

AND ANOTHER THING

Being a bit of a curmudgeon about such things, I've been grumbling away in best Meldrewesque fashion as the Queen's Baton Relay has made its cheesy, happy-clappy, traffic-disrupting way round the country - indeed, countries - ahead of the Games. When the baton arrives at Celtic Park tonight, the Queen will unscrew/uncork/whatever the baton and read out her address. All will be forgiven if she keeps this to two words: "Buckingham Palace."

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