Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, October 15, 2010


Last night I related in my speech that I had sketched a study for "Waiting" in a regional airport during a delay caused by a short staffing strike in the airline concerned.

"I was not sure", I related in jest, "whether French people would relate to it."   The response was appreciative to say the least, and with the national strike set to escalate tomorrow, closing all services in the country including fuel supplies, and all transport with the exception it seems of Eurostar services, we thought perhaps we should make the move to Paris while it was possible.

This of course meant that all we had planned for the next forty-eight hours was in tatters. By now, most will understand that we rarely make plans at all for this very reason. The slow afternoon of planning followed by a long dinner at a local restaurant quickly turned into three computers in concert, searching the internet for last minute accommodation deals and stations at which there was a probability of finding a train that would be empty enough to actually stop.

Fortunately, we found both. Our run of cleverness with Parisian hotels continues with a heavily discounted bedsit turning up a mere two hundred metres from Gare du Paris Nord, our Eurostar departure station, and a superb location for a day when no transport whatsoever will be running. Better still, Celine found a train running just North of Orleans at 6:00 pm (the first for the day in lieu of the normal hourly service).

After careful synchronisation of the three computers we were able to conclude that we had but four hours left for lunch, barely enough, but these are trying times.

Madam did indeed enjoy the scallops on pumpkin cake with forest mushroom sauce, and it goes without saying that monsieur had perhaps a waft of chocolat in his dessert, and both were left wondering why they don't find time to do this more than thrice per year.

There's nothing comforting about standing in temperatures barely above freezing, on a railway platform in the midst the population of four countries all waiting for a train full of people who themselves aren't looking forward to being further crushed as said population squeezes on. It all becomes less comforting with each successive announcement of further delay, allowing time for even more prospective passengers to join the crush. For those of us fortunate enough in the train catching lottery to be near a door when it stopped, life was made much simpler, and the transition was no worse than switching stations on the London Tube in peak hour, which I have it on good authority is where sardine packers learn their craft.

But we were aboard, and we arrived in Paris, and the Metro system was disconcertingly empty except for hoards of menacing looking security men with big truncheons and guns.

Snug in our room, physically and emotionally exhausted in the most pleasant sort of way, we made no plans for Saturday.

1 comment

Joan Elizabeth said...

That train sounds exactly like my daily commute. Still the weather will get warmer one day I hope ... but yesterday it was snowing here so I am wondering exactly when.

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