Cyclists and Guns - Another French Sunday
Another fabulous day in paradise. I sit on the terrace having slept a whole 12 hours wondering what the football score was last night – yet more alcohol and cigarettes from Tan and Angie my neighbours, have conspired to remove all memories of Saturday night. I hope I behaved myself !
Some manual work is in order to clear up the mess the builders have left (and the mess in my head after a night at the neighbours') – and after only a few barrowloads of sand and gravel later, my arms are aching as if I’ve been hung like a side of Sainsbury’s 24 day old beef.
I consider a jaunt on my scooter (again to try and clear my head) but then remember that the main road is closed to allow those poncy, licra-sprayed, mobile traffic roadblocks (called French cyclists) to travel at break-neck speeds between two picturesque Provence villages causing untold havoc and several car accidents in their wake. The last time this happened, I inadvertently drove onto the road heading for the village completely unaware of the thousands of psychedelically coloured cyclists blocking 20 miles (sorry about 32 kilometres) of the most picturesque tarmac this side of the channel tunnel. No sooner had I driven onto the road, which was quiet only because I had managed to slip into a gap between two enormous groups of cyclists, than a policeman on a gleaming white BMW motor cycle roared up beside me and screamed at me to get off the road. Hoping he wouldn’t understand English I shouted back ‘where the **** do you want me to go. There’s a gorge on one side of the road and rocks on the other’. This reciprocal screaming proceeded only to make him even more aggressive and he pulled out his gun whilst driving single-handedly (a manoeuvre which I secretly admired) he waved at me to pull over. I thought about this momentarily and then came to the conclusion that a couple of dozen cyclists would be sweeping round the bend soon at 50 kilometeres per hour and the last thing our battered Honda CRV needed was even more dents in the rear, not to mention the blood and guts which would inevitably splatter the back windscreen and blood is such a difficult thing to remove once it dries ! So, ignoring the increasingly frantic, gun-waving, BMW powered, French law enforcement officer (a true oxymoron if ever there was one) I continued to drive. The fury in his eyes was a sight to behold (even through his visor) – he was obviously thinking that his job was on the line if a superior officer (or the mayor) spotted this cycle-race violation and I was bravely or stupidly thinking….'I hope the French twat shoots me and then there’ll be a huge diplomatic incident and the British Government will ban the importation of Foie Gras and Champagne' – some chance !
Well, as this happened a few years ago and I’m writing this, it is clear the incident passed off relatively peacefully. Although maybe the fact that the local plods came along relatively soon thereafter and closed down my house building project, was, in fact their retribution. But that’s another story.