Deported from France

I was deported from France.

It happened in 1994 so I can talk about it now.

It’s a flashback to the simplicity of travel and what seems now like total and utter disregard for security of international travelers . 1994 was pre-September 11. The EU was only months old, there were no international collaborations on database sharing because there was no computer power to drive.

I was accepted to work at the University of Surrey in the UK with three weeks notice, barely long enough to organise all of the work visas. I ended up with “a right to abode” in the UK – pretty much a citizen with no voting rights.

I got to Surrey and a few of the local lads worked out it was my birthday soon after and we go to Amsterdam. It only occurred to us as we were on the way to Waterloo to catch the bus that I didn’t have a Visa. That was problematic as the bus would go from Dover across to Calais and the French were pretty anal on visas. The lackadaisical customs official at Dover (he seemed more like a the ticket guy at the local carnival) said “no go.” I turned on the charm

“Okay mate, so England is now part of the EU”

“That’s right”

“so I’ve got the right to abode for the UK”

“yes but….”

“So if I can come to the UK I can come to Europe….”

“Customs official”  responded with “err, well, yeah you will get pulled up at the next customs stop and that’s not my problem.”

Amazingly this stunt worked going through Calais, we drove over the border into the Netherlands and all was good. Even more amazingly I have vague memories of those three days in Amsterdam. Consisting of the grasshopper , bulldog, Heineken tour, sex museum, the Doors youth hostel.

We got on the bus early evening on the day of my 20th birthday, getting to Calais at some horrific time of night. I was in rough shape. I assumed pretending to be asleep would help me avoid customs but the stocky, grumpy and smelly border official asked me for my passport, then if I spoke French, and then said nothing more as he manhandled me off the bus.

The temperature outside was -8° as I was introduced to somewhat skinnier, better shaved, “good cop” customs official. My shoulder was aching from the grasp. My friends on the bus yelled out out advice on how I could get home because they knew that the shit just hit the fan. I am dreading the phone call to my mum and the University board about my problems in Amsterdam but why I should be allowed to complete my degree….. So I thought I would try and my story

“So you see, I’ve got this resident to abode to live in the UK and….

“Your passport does not have the correct stamp, you have entered this country illegally Mr….”

Cue pause. Shows the passport to bad cop whose face erupts in a smile. I’m wearing a T-shirt and dying.

“…Mr Luckey. MR LUCKEY…. This is your name….”  They are pissing themselves, good cop has a tear in his eye. My hands are numb.

“ AND IT SAYS HERE TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY!!!!  Mr Luckey on his birthday.”

Other passengers are leaning out of the bus with a mixture of curiosity as no one has ever made a French customs official smile. Actually they are laughing as they continue in French for the next five minutes selecting a stack of paperwork from the various drawers and folders.

“Mr Luckey…  You may never re-enter the country on this passport… … Sign here….. Sign here…. Sign here. We will deport you to England.”

“Okay, you are free to go.”

Three weeks later I got my EU passport. Went to Paris a few months later.

Stuba 600 x 400

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