If you ever read the gossip columns and check out the photos of celebrities who have appeared on the red carpet at glittering events, you will have seen the stanchions that are used to keep us lesser mortals away from the chosen ones who need to be seen by their public. These pieces of kit are used for all sorts of crowd control purposes - outside the most popular clubs, for example. But they have more innocent applications as well. Next time you visit an art gallery or an ancient cathedral, or any major venue that generates queues, have a look around. Chances are that you will spot a velvet rope at reminds vistors to stay in a certain area or not to touch the exhibits. These passive methods of restricting access are discreet and certainly much more acceptable than an aggressive security guard. But remember, there may also be an infra red beam passing over the line as well, so if you do cross it there could be some very noisy alarms going off.