by Sinclair Newton
I told you I was taking a kilo of salt home from Ibiza, but Her Majesty's Customs Officers seemed to have heard about this bag of white powder before I landed at Liverpool airport.
I was frog-marched into a side room and a young man asked me if I was "carrying" anything I shouldn't be.
I suppose you know you are getting older when customs men look younger, but I was genuinely startled because I've never had a problem at airports before. I wasn't really worried because I knew I was a fully taxed and tested motorist and young traffic cops had never troubled me before.
But this was strangely different and he had a zealous look in his eye, which bothered me.
He opened my case and went straight for the salt. An X-ray must have been sent from Barcelona and by now there were five of them and a policewoman all crowded around waiting to make the big salt bust.
They ignored everything else including my dirty socks, though they were handled with great care.
There was an Ibicencan flower vase for my Mum wrapped in that kind of "poppy" plastic and they enjoyed unwrapping that while I squirmed and said inane things like "Do I look like a drug dealer?"
Well I suppose I did and they went off and made tests on the salt. I can report that sea salt from Ibiza is not toxic, nor does it come up like heroin on whatever tests they do, but not before the boy asked me why I was taking it home.
I said to him: "Do you really want to know, because I'll be happy to tell you about the importance of salt from Ibiza and indeed to the Western world and how Ibiza can produce salt like nowhere else because there's a big flat area at one end of the island and I'll take great pleasure in putting it on my chips when I'm safely home and away from the likes of you," or something like that.
An hour later they let me go. My friend was kindly still
waiting to drive me home. I gave him a bottle of Spanish brandy, which I had bought,
in the duty free shop by instinct. It was odd that, because I knew I didn't want
it, but old habits die-hard. Mind you, I gave him none of the salt.
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