Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Back before the incredible feat of modern engineering known as the Chunnel was built to cross the infamous English Channel, there were several other ways to travel from Britain to France. You could swim, hire a private yacht, fly or take the ferry. The latter fit into our budget and skill level and so we took the train from London to Folkstone, England where we boarded the ship. After a delightful tour of Europe we retraced our steps, boarding the boat in Calais, France for the trip back across the channel.

As we set sail on the thirty mile journey, we noticed a large immigrant family of at least three generations, gathering just ahead of us. As more and more members arrived they were each laden down with cigarettes and liquor, all purchased from the duty free store on board the ferry. As we watched, the men began distributing the contraband into the families luggage, preparing for their arrival at customs. In their final act of brazenness they were placing bottles of whiskey and gin underneath the mattress and pillow of a baby's cot.

A young mother was holding a beautiful, round faced baby girl in her arms. Then as if by magic, the little child was suddenly asleep. The mother placed the baby back into the cot, pulling the blankets up and around her shoulders. Their secret was safe . . . so they thought!

As the white cliffs of Dover began to come into view, people started to push and crowd toward the exits. We lost sight of the family as we started to make our way to the front of the boat. With a sharp thud, the ship docked and passengers clambered to get off. As we walked down the ramp and through the customs area we spotted, over on the side, this same extended family. By that time, the baby was out of the bed and so were the bottles! They had attracted the attention of the authorities who had probably seen this act a time or two before and knew what to look for. As the officials began to go through each and every suitcase, purse and satchel, more and more of the smuggled goods began to appear. I don't know if they were planning on starting a shop in the new country, but if so, they were well on their way to having an ample inventory.

I wondered at the time if the family was familiar with the verse that goes something like this  . . . "Be sure your gin will find you out"?

Thank you to my Mother for the title of this story.

© 2013 Stephen J. Rendall - All rights reserved.