This is how I got to from Paris to London.
It’s a 42 year old Renault. A sexy old gal, kinda like Hellen Mirren with a bit of Alzheimer’s – still sexy and charming, maybe even a bit extra so because her inhibitions have dropped but you can see everything’s starting to fall apart and soon enough she’s not going to work at all.
Hellen’s loving and worrying husband is played by Maxime, a French mechanic with a languid body and a jittery character. Hellen, Maxime and I were joined on the day by Marie, a retired child psychologist and Didosh and Nora, two young German girls who quite surprisingly turned out to be parkour enthusiasts. If one of us was black or Asian we could have been the cast of a home loan ad. I was in in the back with the two bracer wearing Germans. Our legs were touching but it wasn’t weird – there just wasn’t any space. There were also no seat belts so every time we swung around a corner me Didosh or Nora would be thrown into my like helpless rag. This happened a lot because Maxime enjoyed driving quickly. He didn’t care much for expediency in general though so we stopped every now and then for pastries, views and loos.
When we were lining up for the ferry we saw a hitchhiker. I wound down the window and yelled out to him.
“Hello. My brethren!”
He came over to the window and Maxime told him he’d have to get a ferry ticket. Every car here had already booked for the exact number of passengers. No one would take him without a ticket he said.
“It’s €40 for a ticket. Unfortunately for you that’s the same price I paid for all five of us.”
The hitchhiker walked off and Maxime pulled out his booking sheet to show me.
“Wow that is cheap.” I said, not knowing why he’d given to me.
“Hey it says you’ve booked for six adults.” I said inspecting the print out.
“What? Let me see? . . . No shit. . . Hey! Hey!”
He leapt out of the car and ran after the hitchhiker. Two minutes later and there were six of us in the car. The new guy was Yoshi. He had red shaved hair and the excitement of someone who had just kissed their crush. Once a home loan ad we were now a circus.
We talked about cheese, the French economy, whether we would rather swim half the way from France to England or have to fight a Leopard, how it would be to live with a hand hanging off your forehead and what eccentric things we’d do if we were fucking rich.
Marie: Buy another house
Maxime: Pay all his friends to live around the world so he could visit them
Didosh: Build a parkour gym in her house
Nora: Buy a lama
For a bunch of eccentric weirdos they didn’t have particularly interesting plans.
We were all very different people but it worked. It was a strange and lovely day and I hope to see them all again while I’m here.
Also who knew the English South Coast had such nice water.