French Connection – Day 1

Monday 9 August 1993

Waiting at the front of the queue to board the ferry to St.Malo.
The other cycle-tourists on their £1,000 bikes (probably another £1,000 worth of hi-tec gear), were giving me looks of disapproval/contempt/sympathy, thinking to themselves “i’ll give him 3 or 4 days”. I didn’t care, I was off at last,I didn’t have to come back after 2 weeks to a boring job to pay for a ‘mortgaged up-to-hilt Georgian semi-detached in Surbiton’ and little Jemima & Henry’s school fees.

After only waiting an hour! We boarded. Putting our bikes in a little room so they didn’t get squished by the cars.

I had come away poorly prepared. The taxi trade had enjoyed a fairly profitable Summer, well it
had as long as you worked 70+ hours a week! Social life, what’s that? Eat, sleep, drive. Repeat until collapse.

On one of my ‘collapses’, I was at the pub with some mates one of whom had just returned from travelling in India. Soon we were having a full-on discussion about how we all wanted to get away. My friend Pete had us all in fits of laughter, recounting all his mad adventures inter-railling round Europe.

Later that night, the seed of an idea had mutated into a fully grown triffid of obsession!

I had a bike (but it’s a lightweight racing bike Steve, even with your weight it threatens to bend like a banana on every corner, and you make Kate Moss look obese!). Tent? Mmm, could buy one, but that means it could cost me as much as another couple of weeks away…….. got it! My little Sis has that crappy thing she bought when She went to LeMans (probably leaks like a sieve) yeah but i’m going to the South of France, how much is it going to rain? Sleeping bag, check. Panniers? Again, too expensive……. I know, i’ll make some out of a couple of cheap rucksacks from the market.

And so the foolishness went on. Which is how I found myself at last on the overnight ferry to St.Malo with a ridiculously overloaded bike, my home-made panniers bursting at the seams. No wonder I was pleased, it was an achievement of Herculean proportions just getting from Bognor to Portsmouth, and that was done mostly by train.

After a disgusting (only one rat on that ship, the food was so bad, they took to cannibalism!) lasagne, I made my way to the duty-free for something of a medicinal nature.

Off to the Piano Bar, because it was the only one left open. Not tired enough to sleep, it’s either Adrenaline or Blue Label Vodka keeping me awake.Soon it looked suspiciously like the bar was going to close, you know how you pick up all those little signs, that metal grill coming down?
Pity really, ‘cos I was just being entertained by the guy next to me. He was giving a very attractive blonde a load of spiel which she seemed to be falling for,
” so I came home from work one day, went into my living room, looking out in the
garden, there’s this cute little dog, big soulful eyes, I thought ,how did you get in?
‘Course, when the kiddies came along, we had it all fenced off, they’re with their Mum
now, I still phone them every week………..”

Mmm, maybe it was time to move, I couldn’t see any of those ‘Sac Mal de mer’ signs. Besides I had quite a good buzz, I realised this ‘cos I was beginning to believe him myself !

After walking round the ship for ages trying to avoid over-active kids, I eventually found a space to lay my sleeping bag out under a stairwell, right next to the piano bar i’d left earlier.
A little while later, I was joined by a French couple, not literally you understand. No chance of sleeping now, they were whispering to each other and she was giggling. I got the anaesthetic out.

3-00 am

Those f****** English kids were STILL racing round the ship, it maybe wasn’t such a good idea
to sleep under a stairwell next to a lift. It was getting tedious now especially as the older guy who was with them went by shouting “Wake up you tramps!” We did. The French girl went off to powder her nose (it looked fine to me), presumably lots of other people had been woken too, ‘cos there was lots of angry looking seamen with walkie-talkies running about as well.

I think they must must of caught them, we never saw them again. I finally dozed off, only to be woken again at about 4-30 by moaning sounds that had nothing to do with the wind, deck vibrations that bore no resemblance to the usual engine type and as for the heavy breathing, well the phones were 3 decks below………………….

To be continued

A little warning:

Since giving my lap-top a good spring clean yesterday , I have viewed nothing
dodgy, so I was a bit suspicious when it was running so slow tonight.

I used DICTIONARY.COM twice tonight and each time I closed it, there was an Ad
Window behind it, when I closed that one there was another behind it.

Have just had a scan at Dr. Spyware’s clinic, and surprise surprise.

11 infections !


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