Remembering back it would have been at the end of 1978 when a contingent of drivers and couriers were to return to London. It was the end of the season and while there was always the choice of hiring a coach from one of the operators and holiday in Goa, about 6 of us decided to return to base.
Some had already planned to go back and had their tickets organized, for the rest of us, it was a work in progress. We did not find it too hard to get a ticket out of Kathmandu to New Delhi so that we did. I believe we caught up with Shirley Temple (Col Davidson) and Mary-Ann while we staid over-night in Delhi. Shirley and Mary-Ann were on the last leg of their trip to Kathmandu.
Up early the next day we headed to the airport to sort out the necessary tickets. As per usual the flight was totally booked so we had to offer whiskey and Rupees to get the necessary passage. The tickets did not all come at once so we negotiated for over an hour but the mission was accomplished. I often think back and wonder if it was just a sham about there being no seats available or whether there are still 6 Indians sitting in the waiting lounge, I use the word lounge very loosely.
There are a few details missing but I think we all got a direct flight to Heathrow.
As we arrive into Heathrow we are all feeling jet lagged and tired from sleep deprivation, hash and alcohol. I don’t think anyone was wearing a business suit and we must have looked similar to the Likely Lads.
The first stop was at immigration with a series of question to each of us. I need to highlight an important point about now, we had been told that immigration was not keen on foreigners working in the country and not paying taxes. The best policy was to avoid detection..... right!
Like the others I hold to the story that I was just visiting and holidaying for a few weeks in England. Me working here? No way, as I did not have a work visa.
Cleared by immigration all we had to do was get through customs and we would be free to get to the Boy’s House for a much needed shower and sleep.
We all know that immigration and customs compare notes so it was in our best interest to give the same answers to these people. As the officer checks through my luggage he asks if I am working in England, well of course not. Why are you carrying so many cassette tapes? I like music. What is this A4 book called “Trip Book”? It is my diary. Why do you have all these ball point pens? I did not tell him this but someone had told us that they could be sold for good money in India; I did not sell one out of the box of 50. I answered by saying I like writing? You know I don’t think he believed me. As they pull everything out of my case the questions kept coming. I notice in the back of the “Trip Book’ a set of accounts that is headed ‘Food Kitty’ what is that? I am good at accounts so they asked me to keep the books. So you don’t work out of here doing tours do you? Hell no.
The questions finish as he finished looking into every cassette tape box, down the barrel of the ball point pens, between each piece of clothing and case lining. Arr! I was through. Oh no! Another officer approaches and said to the first I’ll take over. As he starts to go through my belongings I informed him the other officer has already checked all this. His response, you leave me to do my job. What are you doing in England? Here we go again.
While they are going through me like a packet of Epson salts the rest of my fellow travelers are all cleared, obviously they did not lie to the officials.
Something like an hour later I am released into England once more.
As I drag my more weary body through the doors the others then inform me that I meet the description of a guy they were expecting in from India who was reported to be carrying drugs. Why didn’t they just ask me, I could have told them I was not their guy. I’m not the type of bloke to tell lies. I ask you, did I look like a druggie after spending 2 days without much sleep and then lie through my teeth to every question? Ooops! After all these years I figured that could have been the reason but so much for my other druggie mates, who sailed calmly into England.
The moral of the story is to always lie to officials, it is far more fun.
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