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Saturday, 2 August 2008

Spanish Customs

The trip back to Algeciras was brief and uneventful. I stared at a receding North African shore and wondered how much I’d remember: Fez...the ‘Real Yorkshire Fish and Chip Shop’ in the middle of Tangier... the more real Yorkshire-man – Dave Loney – biking through and around Morocco. I remembered railing against the continuous brazen blue skies, longing for greyness and cloud, and Dave urging on me the beauties of Yorkshire, pot-holing and walking across moor-land. It sounded good, and I made a rash promise.

Just behind me, in the queue through customs, was a loud and very boastful American boy. He may or may not have been the son of an Embassy official in Madrid, but his voice soared above Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, playing almost as loudly on his sound box. To believe him, he was carrying enough dope to supply half of Madrid.

I shuffled on.

From the corner of my eye I detected movement.

A finger.

I turned to see a Spanish policeman staring at me. He looked like Lieutenant Doberman in Sergeant Bilko, only more sombre, even grim. He raised his finger again and curled it, beckoning to a small cubicle. The American boy went quiet.

I went through the usual pattern of body language: the widened eyes, head tilting quizzically, the finger on the chest. The policeman nodded and gestured me again into the small cubicle.

The body search was thorough and became even more so. He put on a pair of brown leather gloves.

“Senor.”

He placed my hands on a facing wall and pulled my trousers down. A finger shot up my bottom, jabbed once or twice then went up and down following the natural curve of the crack. Should I have been outraged, embarrassed, perhaps humiliated? The mind is a strange thing. With each exploratory jab I was thinking what a great story this would make, and how best to tell it over a few pints in the pub back home.

When he had finished I waited. He had pulled my trousers down, he could pull them up, I thought, before better sense prevailed. The policeman watched impassively as I adjusted my dress and left.

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