General Franco started our EU Tobacco Shopping Trips

Yes it's true, without General Franco l doubt l would have started taking people on EU shopping trips for their tobacco.Let me explain why, l left the USA in 1992 after living there in Miami for approx 3 years working for amongst others the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line installing and maintaining the casinos.

l came back to the UK because of a reconciliation with my then ex-wife and my 2 daughters. lt was however an ill-fated attempt but the result was that l ended up staying in the UK and living with my 2 young daughters. l was now a single parent. Work was somewhat difficult but with the help of my family and my ex in-laws l was able to continue. My expertise is in casinos and particularly slot machines. Now you'd think l was able to work in British casinos but this is not the case. The casinos in the UK are not casinos in my opinion, they are a pale imitation of what casinos actually are and should be. The slot machines used in casinos were not up to the standard demanded of casinos either. Not in build but how they operated. These slot machines are illegal in the USA and other countries because they are not fair ... they are a rip-off. Real casino slot machines give you an equal chance of winning the jackpot every single time you played them ... unlike the British ones. I'll explain this one day in more detail if l have time.

The implications of this for me was all my work was in Ireland as they do use real casino machines. Technically they are illegal to operate there but the Irish simply ignore it. Slot machines are confiscated by the police every now and then but they just install and operate them in the police social club for a couple of weeks, take the proceeds and then return the slot machines. Everyone is happy with this Irish solution.

The most popular of these slot machines are made in Madrid, Spain and so l started dealing with them. With the advent of Easyjet this was simple to do. At least once a week l was on the Liverpool to Madrid route. l was bringing conversion kits and spares etc back from Madrid. Consequently my luggage was always to capacity more often than not. Whilst in Madrid l thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the far cheaper prices of cigarettes but found British brands were scarce to say the least. So, in my spare time in Madrid l set about sourcing a supply of British brands. I'm good at this even though l say so myself. l persevere until l get what l want, l won't take no for an answer. Recently l did the same in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A year or so later, l hit upon the idea of bringing people with me so they too could buy cheaper cigarettes. l advertised and got many replies, some were time wasters, some were no doubt Customs, and some turned out to be actual customers. lt worked out very well and l was even on BBC Radio Humberside discussing it with a Customs official who had to agree that what we were doing was perfectly legal. l had the audio cassette tape of this but sadly have lost it. l was stopped many times by Customs although none of my customers ever were. All my stops resulted in frustration for Customs as l was only carrying slot machine parts. On average l didn't bring back spares maybe 2 or 3 times a year. lt was on these occasions that l bought cigarettes for myself and my then girlfriend. When l was stopped by Customs with such l knew how to deal with it and always came away with my goods. There was however one occasion where it was close to losing my cigarettes and that was through sheer stupidity.

Who was l with at the time? ... Zaphod!  lt was the first time he'd ever been, in fact the first time he'd ever been out of the UK. We fell out in Madrid over money ... he'd lost it and it was not a small amount. (I'll let him tell you how if he wishes to do so). We still had enough for cigarettes but were not speaking and didn't all the way back to Liverpool Airport. l was then stopped by Customs and one of the questions was  'Was l travelling alone?'. l said that l was because it was true as  Zaphod wasn't coming back with me from Liverpool ! The other reason was l wasn't going to grass on him regardless of what had happened. You just don't do it ... period! Unfortunately Zaphod is then dragged in by another Customs officer and it's obvious to them that we know each other and our passports will show we booked on the same card. We are in shit now, I've just lied to Customs about travelling alone as far as they are concerned ... bye bye cigarettes!

Customs now ask me if l know Zaphod and l say l do. They then say why did l lie because l am travelling with him?. l reply that l am travelling alone because he's no longer a friend of mine. l then insult Zaphod and bring up the lost money again. Zaphod responds and it immediately escalates into a full blown, very loud, confrontational argument. Customs have to separate us and then they calm us down and then act as mediators and get us to talk to each other. Customs even make me agree to take him home. We ended up all chatting along nicely and then they just said we could go ... with our cigarettes!

This taking people to Madrid ended shortly afterwards as my work began to take me to far flung places like Cambodia, Caribbean, USA and many other countries.

Oh yeah, General Franco, he only had one child, a daughter .... María del Carmen Franco y Polo, 1st Duchess of Franco, Grandee of Spain, Dowager Marquise of Villaverde. She had several children.

The company l was dealing with in Madrid? ... Recreativos Franco created and run by the grandchildren of General Franco! l dealt with his grandson Kino Franco


  1. ha ha, l'm pissing myself laughing atyou and zaphod fighting in front of customs. f##king brill

  2. There's signs everywhere saying that they will not tolerate abuse of staff. But no rules about abusing other passengers!
    The lost money? I was pickpocketed by a young lady, who distracted my attention very effectively in the trouser pockets area. I declined to buy her services, but later I discovered that I'd paid anyway. I live, and (may eventually) learn. :-)

  3. Oh, that's just classic. Don't think l can blame Zaphod though, any female hands in that dept always switches brain off.

  4. It was a Brit Custom Officer who started my Smuggling/euro-shoppings! Strange but true. This was in the days before the borders supposedly fell, back in the day when I was pretty much a Transeuropean hitch hiking tramp...everyday a different town and a different girl. Appearing at customs as a foot passenger on a cargo ferry one day, the nice officer said 'you should always buy a couple of 5 packs in the Duty Free (Back when there was a real Duty Free on the ferry) , you keep one to smoke yourself and one you flog'. Totally illegal of course but back then Her Majesty's Mafia weren't arsed about the odd 50g of baccy appearing on the black market. They were more concerned, strangely enough, with stopping stuff like semtex and heroin.


    Gracias por compartir este post, estaría bien poder llegar a más personas para poder transmitir lo dicho aqui, te deseo suerte con tu blog.

    Un saludo!!


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