Now I don’t know about you but I could never be a criminal. I just couldn’t cope with the guilt. Sometimes there are times when I feel like Al Capone and I KNOW I’m innocent. It happened again a few weeks back at Malaga Airport. My wife and I had been to the Costa del Sol for a two week break staying with friends at their lovely mountain home but then we had to return home and navigate our way through the customs hall at the airport.

Bob Marley cigarettes

I should explain first that I’ve never smoked in my life, never mind inhaled any of those cigarettes favoured by Bob Marley and certainly never partaken of anything more serious. I’m pretty boring really but that doesn’t stop me having the most enormous guilt complex whenever I go through customs anywhere in the world. In the good old days I could feel guilty about not having an extra 20 fags in my suitcase but these days when queuing in the airport I’m trying to convince myself that my friends don’t call me Osama bin Murphy!

Laptop Checks

Usually I can make myself look very small (my wife will attest to this but that’s a different story) when shuffling through Passport checks but on this occasion it didn’t work. As is normal at this time they ask you to take your laptop out of your hand luggage so that the customs officials can have a look at it as it disappears through their x-ray machine. It’s at this point that it dawns on me I’ve been staying with some friends who very definitely do like a bit of the old Rastafarian music if you know what I mean. Sweat starts to form on my brow. And then it happens, “would you mind if we have a closer look at this, Sir?“ I reply with as much sincerity as I can muster: “Of course you can.” Gulp.

Passport Patrol

I watch as they move off to a large machine with my laptop and think they are about to swab it with a ear bud and wipe it with a cloth. I’ve seen those Passport Patrol programmes. You know the ones, the ones where they can not only find out if your laptop has been in contact with anything hooky in the past, they can also tell if your wife is pregnant and worse still if you have ever done anything dodgy in your life as well – like supported Tottenham Hotspur. These machines are amazing but in a bad way if you have a guilt complex.

The love of a good woman

As Sir Alex Ferguson would say, it was definitely squeaky bum time and I could certainly feel some movement in my nether regions. Just when you hope that your wife will be there for some moral support you notice out of the corner of your eye that she’s clocked the situation and is shuffling away from me nonchalantly trying to distance herself. Thanks love, thanks for the last 28 years – love you too. I have visions of the two girls in South America, the Peru Two stuck in a foreign jail and she’s running away from me. Mentally I can hear her saying “enjoy your stay in prison pretty boy, Jose and Miguel await you.”

Metrosexual Men

And then just when I’m planning how to fight off the ravenous advances of men that just love other men that moisturise Mr Customs Man returns: “Thank you Sir that’s fine”. Handing me back my laptop and let’s face it my whole life on a plate I try to look as casual as possible as I return it to my hand luggage as quickly and forcefully as possible and catch up with my wife who feigns innocence as to why she didn’t sidle up to me and hold my hand as I was going through this ordeal.

Laptop Repairs needed now

It’s as we sit in the lounge waiting for our plane that I realise why they wanted to look at my laptop with a little more thoroughness. The screen is slightly cracked and the casing has seen better days and I guess they assumed that I had opened it up at some point and stored a few pounds of unusual contraband in it. One thing I can say is that I’m off to the laptop repair shop next week. For the sake of a few quid I don’t want any excuse available to put me through that level of ordeal again.