Posted by: puebloman | May 4, 2009

South of the border

The day I left England, got into my car under the gaze of the CCTV. I drove to the supermarket, trying to avoid being photographed by speed cameras. Walking through Tesco’s car park surveillance I entered the world of the in-store security cameras and made my purchases. I paid by card which noted the time and amount of the transaction and I received a receipt on which was recorded the detail of my purchases so that Tesco could send me intrusive emails suggesting what else I might “like”. Waving goodbye to the cameras I made my way via speed traps into the train station’s camera surveillance and from there to the Southern Train’s anti-vandalism carriage video system. This took me to airport security where, under the cameras, the process of regulation and control began to assume a human face.

The border guards that keep us safe from terrorism and protect our liberties decided to take my luggage apart. “Books!” They gave me a suspicious look as though I had conspired with person or persons unnamed. “Ah, birds eggs of Britain and Europe” said the female goon, passing it to her testosterone laden companion “You’ll like this” “Ah!” he retorted “The shorter Pepys, I see!” Short but presumably deadly, like a Deringer. “A very eclectic collection” he whispered as though broad mindedness had just become an offence. They went through my personal effects item by item. Intrusively, offensively, passing comments as they did so.They handled each item with obscene intimacy like a priest handling a child’s bottom.
“And why are you going to Malaga Sir?” inquired the officeress “Off for a bit of sun?”
“No I don’t like the sun” I replied “I’m going for the surveillance”. “There isn’t any”.
Narrowly escaping a full body search and the temporary confiscation of my passport, the usual punishment for members of the public who are less than ingratiating to customs officers, I boarded the plane.

Three hours later I was standing in the darkness on the edge of Malaga airport. Due to the expansion of the site (14million passenger throughput increasing to 26 million in five years) and the building of a motorway, it looks as though it has been hit by a bomb. I sat in my car, noting the isolated road trailing across an expanse of bare churned earth lit by small pools of light supended from temporary lamposts. Nowhwere to hang a camera. In later, darker times, lovers and conspirators would have to plan the new world in places like this. As I took to the road and headed for the hills I was confident that, whatever electronic trail I had set up in the UK, this would be where it disappeared. . . .

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  1. You are truly preaching to the converted with this one, John! That is one of the reasons we moved out of the UK – when governments feel they have to monitor their citizens that closely, you have to do something!

    All governments would like to do so, of course. But it’s easy in the UK – small country, concentrated population. A very different story in Spain, thank god! I even like paying cash all the time – no trace!


  2. Sorry, but I only got as far as reading the first few lines, it told me all I neded to know. Another of those rose tinted glasses type blogs where everything is great in Spain, and everything about UK is bad. As a Spanish speaking Englishman that has been visiting Spain for 25 years, including your area, I know it ain’t so.


    • Hi,
      Sorry you are unable to read more than a few lines. The word “everything” doesn’t appear in any of myy posts. For criticism of the Spanish police see “The Beaux Gendarmes” (It means The Police – do you speak French too?) and for what I think of England – I love England and English people try “An English Fiesta”. I know how hard it is to apply yourself if you have learning difficulties. Try putting your finger on each word, and above all take your time. If this doesn’t work, stick to twitter. That said, its great to be read by a great expert, albeit an illiterate.


      • Always witty, John, and I enjoy reading your blog!

        Just say ‘yah boo sucks’ to El Ingles…


      • I have a feeling I know who El Ingles is!! Thanks for your encouragement!!!


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