Thursday, 29 November 2007

What's that in the distance, approaching?

overcast, windy, rain and snow mix in pm

Well, a storm was forecast - so we arranged to stay at home in front of the fireplace as the snow pelted down. There's nothing in the world like being snug inside, with plenty of wood and food, while a snow storm batters the house! It's heaven. There's very little worse in the world than being outside in it! Especially on the roads.

But, as you see, the storm has given us a rain-check. Oh well.

Wrote the December Newsletter last night, and announced the winner of the bookdraw for people who subscribed. If you'd like to sign up, it's free and you can do it through my website -

Had a suitably humiliating day yesterday. I had to go to Canada Customs in Richford and admit I had been trying to smuggle. Totally embarrassing! Uggg. Stupid.

'Anything to declare?' the young man asked, with a smile.

I smiled back. 'Nothing.'

I'd been back and forth across the border a million times, though this was a guard unknown to me. Richford, Vermont, is about five minutes from Sutton, Quebec.

'ID please.'

I handed him my drivers license. He handed it back, I put the car in gear.

'Could you just pop the trunk, please.'

'No problem,' I smiled, increasingly maniacly. Soon three border guards were huddled around the trunk. A line of cars formed behind me, I could just hear the moans. The guards looked so serious I began to wonder if there was a body in there. Or guns, or tobacco or booze.

'What's this?' a woman agent held up the lamp.

'It's a lamp,' I said, trying not to sound condescending but not sure what else to say.

'Well, I can see that. Where did you purchase it?'

And that's when things started to go south. I opened my mouth and out came the biggest load of crap I'd ever heard. I suspected they'd heard worse, but not by much. My face was burning, my hands shaking, my voice stammering, the lamp dangling. Lie after lie plopped out of the car and onto the pavement.

Finally I shut up and tried to look confident. Which I might have done, but not quite as confident as the border guards.

They decided - after half an hour or so - to impound the lamps until I could provide proof I'd bought them in Canada. Which, we all knew, I wouldn't find.

Strange, but that was an amazing experience. I felt trapped. I immediately went to lying. Then got caught in them, making it way worse. And could feel it all slowly, so slowly collapse. On top of me.

It was a horrible, horrible feeling. One I honestly hadn't had since I was a child. It was, after all, such a childish thing to do. To try to get away with something then lie about it when caught. As odd as this might sound, it gave me even more insight into how certain murderers might feel. Not, perhaps, the hardened ones, but the ones with a conscience. When questioned they lie, of course. Then watch as the lies are exposed one by one. It's like seeing a monster approach from far away, a step at a time, and not to be able to run away. A nightmare.

Now, not to over dramatise this, in my case it was simply two lamps. I went to the border yesterday, threw myself on their thin mercy and came away with a fine and a flag against my name. And it was fair. I was smuggling. But it was sure interesting to watch myself through this. Interesting, humbling, embarrassing and enlightening.

Of course, on the plus side, I now have street cred. Might even get a tattoo. A couple of Restoration Hardware Swing Arm lamps - but I won't tell you where.

I think I might be able to deduct the fine, as research. Yeah. That's all it was. Reseach. Sure. What's that on the hill, coming this way?

Speak tomorrow. Be well.


RGC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RGC said...


This story is hilarious. you definitely have street cred, international at that. However, could this damage your reputation as a story teller? It would seem that your craft would have helped you come up with the perfect story at the perfect pace to convince these border agents that the lamps were canadian by birth!

too bad about the flag against your name. looks like you'll have to endure the extra long security screenings from now on!

Louise Penny Author said...


Nice picture - how do you do that? Gives you some insight into how hard I work to create my own stories! Doesn't seem to come naturally. And you're right about longer security lines. Bending over for security might be my only exercise on tour. Hope it doesn't become aerobic.


RGC said...

i had to enter the url for the picture which i had hosted at the blogger explains a different way that makes no sense whatsoever, so i did it that way.