:: Saturday, 16 September 2006 ::
WOGFROG06 DAY 1 LONDON TO ROUEN
At 1 p.m 15 September I got my hands on a lovely new Mazda MX5 (Car of the Year 2006)
and by 5 p.m
it and I were on the train
crossing the tunnel into France.
Superfun drivey day of appallingly heavy traffic out of London (guh, Friday afternoon....g'uh) in wonderful sunshine and fabulous drivey fun in sunshine again on French motorways from Calais down into Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burned to death by the English. Am about to go wondering for the obligatory WogShot of the Cathedral. Love a Cathedral, me.
Traditional English pessimism and relentless negativity was in full force, I am delighted to report. It just wouldn't be a trip to Ol' Blightey without some Marvin the Robot dourness. Makes me smile, it does.
It began at the beginning. I got the "Oh, there's no Mazda I'm afraid, but we can upgrade you into an Audi A4 convertible, leather seats, automatic".
Hmmm. It is not so much that there were upberwog tears or howls of anger, smashing of the phone onto a hard surface, threats to killkillkill or anything. There was a sense of frustration I experienced, no doubt. But mostly there was a kind of steely, quiet Don Corleone kind of "I am unhappy; 'upgrade' is not the word I would use in these circumstances; and would you please ring around and do what you can to find me a Mazda". They did find me a Mazda. Problem averted. Well, there was no problem at all had they bothered to ring around before calling me.
I got the "Oh you'll never get a cab to take you to the carenty place, it's such a short journey. they'll refuse for sure. And this from a concierge! Natch, a cab came and the driver was lovely and asked me all the trip and we chatted happily for 5 minutes or so.
I got the "Oh, you'll never make it on to the train tunnel today. Friday afternoon? It'll be a half day wait for sure. Nightime before you get out."
Down the M4 into the train place, on the next train, pas de problems.
I adore the English.
Anyhoo, car is, natch, a fabulous thing, only 5k miles on the clock and all comfortable and clean. SarfEast Engerland is also a wonderful thing, all motorway and rolling hils with blackfaced sheep and cows all about the gentle stink of country poo everywhichway you turn. Fecund, it is. Turns out France from Calais to Rouen is rather the stinkysame.
Reminds me of The Royal Show, where my Pa used to take me very year, so we could go see the magnificent bulls and I could clamber all over them as they slept on beds of haycovered concrete. Ahh, good times.
The French motorways have a very sensible design element that could do with some adoption everywhere - there's a railing in the middle, between the two traffic directions, that's set at just the right height to block headlights, but enough to let the softish aura glow on around. What this means is that the motorways don't need to be lit up so much, cos you can keep your high beams on, lighting up everything comfortably without having to constantly turn 'em on and off as traffic approaches, to avoid blinding your fellow travellers coming the other way. You get to see the aura of the lights on the side of the partition but not the glare, and it's all kind of The Cure's "A Forest", you know? Kinda cool.
Oh, and their tunnels are tops too, cos they are the most rudimentary circleyarches of solid concrete with no tiles anywhere and just bunches of lights hangin' off the ceilings and huge fans hanging there too, to keep the air moving about as necessary.
All very form is function. Good stuff.
Good stuff too, for petite dejeuner - that's collazione to youse - of croissants and coffee. Molto bene, tres bon.
So, long drive today hopefully into Bordeaux and hopefully with a bit of off-the-motorway action to see some misty rainy countryside but not craaazy abandonned-ape action. No. Thank. You.
But before that, maybe just one more episode of Inspector Rex. Swear to God - the God of reason, that is - it is like Europe has a 24hour Rex channel, cos in Italy too, if you're jonesin' for Rex, you can always get a fix on any teevee anytime.
:: WB 1:05 a.m. [link+] ::