Sometimes you need a dose of trash TV. Last night was one of those times. Curled up with a G&T I flicked to Nothing to Declare. It was, well, brilliant.
For those of you who have not discovered this programme yet, it’s a ‘behind the scenes’ view of Australia’s Customs and Border Security. It shows the lengths the Aussies go to in an attempt to keep their country free from diseases found elsewhere, defeat smuggling and find imported drugs. Oh, and people who have no intention of returning home from their holiday or business trip.
I loved it. The lengths of stupidity and idiocy which some people will go to – and the lies. Wow. I think I must be remarkably naïve. There are, of course, some heart tugging stories and really genuinely sad moments uncovered by the cameras. And some hilariously funny ones. Of course, you can argue that as the programme is not live it is open to potential heavy editing, only showing cases where the Government employees do not make any mistakes, are inefficient or unfair. I’m cynical enough to recognise that. But it’s still stonkingly good television.
A random snippet of information for you, seeing as how we’re talking about our friends down under. Did you know quokkas are only to be found in South West Australia? Nowhere else in the world has these little lovelies, definitely my favourite Australian animal. Wallabies about the size of a cat. Cute, endangered and engaging. Not that I regularly rank my favourite animals, you understand.
Back to the matter at hand. I’ve seen the programme before, and got so excited about it I had to skype a friend of mine who has recently moved to Australia. But last night’s was a particularly fantastic episode. I resisted skyping Australia this time, mainly because I was so gripped by what was going on.
A Chinese lady tried and failed to smuggle in over 4,000 cigarettes (I forget whether she was the woman with the gecko in the jar of vinegar – also illegal, unsurprisingly). Four lads came back from a holiday in Thailand with two types of so-called ‘energy’ tablets which turned out to be steroids, more weapons than you’d need to stock a dodgy self-defence store, two Tasars, several laser thingies, and a horrendous jetski bruise. They were subsequently prosecuted and heavily fined. Fair dinkum. Two Indonesian men were returned to Jakarta on the next flight, with visas revoked.
And that wasn’t all. A potentially rabid corgi bit the quarantine vet. Spanish salsa turned out to contain thousands of dollars worth of drugs. A visitor from the Far East claimed she didn’t know whether people in Australia had heard of tofu but it was like cheese. She didn’t care if it was illegal, she liked it and she wanted to eat it for breakfast. Two cleaners on the trip of a lifetime were fined a week’s wages for trying to take in three apples and a banana. Five Chinese nationals had their house raided due to passport issues.
I couldn’t do what the Border employees do. But I’m grateful they do it. Australia is a wonderful country, with a beautiful and awe inspiring landscape. I look forward to the next time I visit. I’ll double check I’ve not packed a fruitbowl in with my suncream. And I’ll have to make sure I don’t accidentally take a quokka home with me if I’m lucky enough to visit Perth again.
In fact, just to check what I can take, I’ll have to keep watching. Shame.
PS The dog was fine. So was the vet. No worries, mate!