This is it…ra-ta-ta-taa!!
The courier had warned us that with there being so many Greeks on board we would have a longish wait at the border while the police checked their papers and luggage. So I took the opportunity of going to the bog for my long-awaited…well, you know...
I was intensely aware of the fact that in stepping off the coach I would be putting my foot down in Greece for the first time – Zarathustra…2001..daa daa daaaaaa……dadaaaaaaaaaaa…bom bom bom bom bom – the coach had become my lunar module: “I am stepping down onto the surface – beep - that’s one small step for man – beep – one giant leap for Philkind – beep – and where’s the bog - beep?
I found one at the back of the guard post. It was unlocked and inside it wasn’t too unbelievably clogged with faeces. So I went in, locked the door and began my business.
What a relief that is; what a load off your “mind”, when the world falls out of your bottom; poets don’t wax lyrical about the divine joys of a good crap but they should. I felt like myself again; the world looked wonderful; the air outside was scented with the sweet smell of very-early-in-the-morning exhaust fumes.
I walked back to the coach and I noticed people looking over to me…one or two were pointing. Had they also noticed that I suddenly cut a different figure after my evacuation?
I got to within a few yards and heard someone say, “neffton?”
It was the border policeman.
“Neffton…neffton. Pheeleep neffton…”
Oh fuck, he means me…
He was standing by the open luggage compartment of the coach. Round and about some of the Greeks were repacking and closing their cases having obviously been obliged to get them out and open them for inspection…and now me?
Open my case for inspection…oh double fuck…the stereo!
Suddenly I could hear my own voice around me saying a hundred times or more, “why should they want to look in my case?” Was my bravado about to be my undoing…was I to spend my year in Greece locked up in a cell for smuggling, learning only the Modern Greek for ball and chain and bend over?
“Ok, ok…here I am. Hello, nice country you have here.”
“Anixte afti ti valisa, sas parakalo”
Hmm, pretty obvious what that means…open this case please – and thereby prove your guilt as a smuggler.
He wanted me to open the case which had my clothes in first…prolonging the agony. Ok, here you go pal…get an eyeful of all this horrible cheap and nasty polyester clobber. He looked at it and poked it a bit. It didn’t do anything.
He turned away and shouted, “Papadopoulos!”
“I suppose that’s the guy with the handcuffs,” I thought as I put the case back in and started looking for the other case; the illegal case; the court case case.
One of the Greek passengers came over to where we were standing.
“Papadopoulos”, said the policeman.
“Ne”, nodded Mr Papadopoulos sullenly and he began to pull out his case from the luggage compartment.
I looked slowly round. The policeman was now occupied with Mr Papadopoulos and the contents of his case…
“O . . . k . . .”, I thought and became very nonchalant. I took my hand slowly but not too slowly from the handle of the second case. Then I wiped the dust off the top of the case as if that had been why I had touched it. Then I turned and casually walked around the policeman and Mr Papadopoulos trying hard not to look enormously relieved and smug and also trying very very hard not to punch the air with my fist and shout, “YES! You blind Greek customs-bloody-MAN!”
I got back into the coach and sat down in my seat, now smiling smugly.
“What was all that about?”
“I had to open my case…but not that case, the other case.”
“Oh shit! A case of choosing the wrong case? And now?”
“Case dismissed. And just in case…case closed!”
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