We spent two days wandering along canals and sitting in bars reading the "special menus" and giggling at the idea of being able to order marijuana at the bar.
Amsterdam airport on the return journey was where things began to go wrong. Suddenly I heard our names announced over the loudspeaker - "This is the final call for Mr and Mrs Millington, the plane is waiting to leave." We ran like scolded children to the gate, only to be met by the archetypal air stewardess ready to slap our legs for keeping the plane waiting.
The plane landed at East Midlands on a dark, rainy night. As we walked into the luggage collection areas I noticed various officials carrying radios and watching the waiting passengers. We collected our luggage and started towards customs. We were met at the top of the ramp by one of the officials, who asked if we minded using the red channel.
As we rounded the corner we started to have concerns. We were shepherded to a table and asked if we would mind opening our bags.
"No problem," we said "as long as you don't mind looking though our dirty laundry."
The bags were duly searched, presents opened, inspected and dropped.Then we were skillfully guided to separate rooms.
I was accompanied by two female Customs officers, one of whom looked about 17 and had the air of somebody doing work experience. Would I mind undressing? Now I was scared. My 40-year-old body shone in the glare of fluorescent light strips and my stretch marks were there for all to see. I felt as it I had been assaulted. Then I was asked to place my hands on the wall and spread my legs. Now I began to feel as if I was taking part in a pornographic film. Would I bend over and touch my toes?
Back outside the "examination rooms" our bags were given back to us and we were told we could go. No apology or explanations.
We both walked out into the main airport building stunned. We walked slowly toward the automatic doors expecting to be tapped on the shoulder any minute, feeling like criminals.
Outside in the air we practically ran to the car, piled in and locked the doors. The journey home was spent discussing what our legal rights were.
This was the first time I had been strip-searched, and I never want to have to repeat the performance again. For my partner it was the second strip search and his fourth brush with Customs and each time he has felt like a criminal.
We vowed we would never fly again - we do of course - but always wear clean underwear.Reuse content