Thursday, April 23, 2009

'Customs and Excise'

Growing up as a twin has been an unusual and unique experience, especially when you happen to be the identical type. It is like carrying a mirror around with you permanently.
Inexplicably twins also tend to adopt a lot of the same very specific tastes and characteristics.
Growing up together we were always more competitive than other siblings. What he had, I wanted and Visa Versa, and we would do everything together. At that time it would be have been obvious to expect us to be very similar and it would be true to say that we were.
However at 18 yrs we both left home travelling the world on the high seas. In the following 31 years we rarely saw each other again.
He initially lived in the Caribbean before moving to the USA (Chicago, San Fransisco and now Houston) where he eventually became an American citizen.
During all this time I remained in England.
During those 31 years our friends, careers, respective external influences and environment's have been totally different. Yet we still seem identical on the inside as well as the outside.
The one exception is his very suspect musical taste. I was never a great fan of the Pretenders or Dire Straits.
Being in his company now for a more sustained period is like having continuous self reflective therapy. When I experience him doing something kind or honorable, I too feel the positive side of that experience. I step back and wonder if I portray myself in such a way.
In the same respect when I see him behaving badly or showing more undesirable character traits, I think. Oh F*** am I too like that.

Prior to leaving home completely when we used to go away to sea, we each used to covert one an others possessions, usually clothes. Its a similar experience that sisters usually have or Mothers and daughters.
There would be some serious negotiations that would take place prior to leaving as to what the other could 'borrow' which was a kinder word than 'steal'
Sometimes negotiations would breakdown where no items could be secured.
This ritual that would always take place and became to be known as 'Customs and Excise'.
When you go into a new country there are two lines you can go down.
The green line - Nothing to declare. This is where you walk through freely in the knowledge that you could get stopped at anytime and have your bag searched.
If you have contraband with you ,your F****D.
I can never understand why I don't get stopped every time.
Although I never have anything to hide, I must look as anxious as a cat that has just fallen into a dog pound.
Walking quicker than normal, and perspiring like a sauna attendant - I would have picked me every time.
The red line - Where you have brought something with you that you have to pay duty on.
This is where you face the customs officers face to face and have to talk to them. If you have an extra bottle of wine and want to pay duty on it, then there is no problem if he decides to have a cursory look in your bag.

If however you are bringing in 13 bottles of wine and are pretending that you only have one over your limited allowance - your mouth does not always work properly.
When you get caught you may just loose it all.
After trying every scenario with my brother I soon realised that going down the red line and declaring everything was the best way.
As I leave Houston approaching 50 yrs the old Customs and Excise routine has again been re-enacted . Sensibly I choose the red channel and declared a number of fancy cycling jerseys and other cycling equipment.
He didn't even search my bag.



No further riding since we got back from Austin although we do plan to cycle the next two mornings before I leave on Sunday afternoon.

Paddy and I have been busy devising a Website for Charity bike rides called http://www.travelwithmymule.com/ although its very much a case of work in progress I hope it works.
Our aims are to:
Raise awareness in environmental issues
Participate in charity fund raising events.
Promote a more healthy lifestyle
My next blogpost will be back in England. Which will probably be written accompanied by a mug of hot steaming tea and the heater on.
I cant really see myself in shorts.

1 comment:

Big Oak said...

Cheers to your charity website! That's a great idea!