Last time I drove into this country from France I was with Lou. The car was mostly empty. A few cases of wine from José Ferrer in Binissalem but largely an open boot. When we got to the border back to the UK, the customs official was mildly concerned about how I didn’t have an out stamp. I have no idea why I didn’t have an out stamp, I didn’t want one. Someone at the French border evidently agreed with me that time as he didn’t give me one.

Back then in November it was a bright day in France. Late Indian summer sun. Lou and I let the light hit our faces, knowing that this long winter was coming. We spent 35 minutes in a tunnel and we emerged to freezing fog and a rainstorm. Ahhhh Britain.

It’s getting harder and harder to countenance living here. The stupid and the cruel people here are shouting so very very loudly since Brexit. Those fuelled by fear and a sense of their own intrinsic importance. The internet gives platforms for extremism fuelled by abject stupidity. We all have friends that fall for pattern-matching.

Just as we approached the border, I opened my window to give my passport to the guy, and the wind blew the flimsy piece of crap you are supposed to attach to your windscreen out of the passenger window. Tristan tried to run for it and eventually found it, but it wasn’t a good look in front of the border guard. I even got out of my car and stood watching him with my hands on my head. Two tall men of a certain age jumping out of a car and running somewhere just before customs. Fuck.

“What was all that about?” he asked, after having watched Tristan run across three lanes of polite traffic. I can’t quite keep a straight face to him either. I have been laughing with part genuine reaction and part border-panic. We look like clowns. “Oh yeah sorry the uh the paper thing just blew out.” “What are you carrying in there, you look full?” ‘Just crap. Stuff from my brother’s house.” NO WINE OFFICER “Nice. Must be a lot of value there?” NO DIDN’T OVERSPEND ON “INVESTMENT” BOTTLES OFFICER “Nah probably not. He died six years ago. This is just things to remember him by.” WINE HELPS REMEMBER!!!!??? NO IT DOESN’T! OH GOD. WE ARE DOOMED.

He looked at me like I’d brought a downer for saying my brother was dead. He still kept working. “Where are you going?” “Home.” “Where’s home?” “London mate. Sorry but someone’s gotta live there.” “I can’t handle that place.” “Yeah, I get that. My girlfriend is in Brighton, and frankly now I’m starting to look at other options helped by her perspective.” “Off you go then. Good luck.”

God knows. If we had too much wine in the car we hadn’t fully counted it. I think we were within limits, surprisingly. We both stopped at vineyards and bought, but we weren’t over the top. We were loaded with some other random things and a stop and search would have been rubbish and extremely time consuming.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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