Monday, 10 October 2011

Those busy, busy days

A couple of weeks ago I took my lovely wife over to Germany and in true British fashion we 'tunnelled' our way out. Only this time we didn't have to dig one, as the lovely, lovely people from Eurotunnel had done the hard work for us.
I remember well the hustle and bustle there was when the tunnel first opened and even in the middle of the night you had to queue at the ticket barriers. Once the sour-faced lady or gent at the barrier had scrutinised your booking slip, made sure that your payment was up-to-date and that your car was not powered by vegetable oil, you finally received the most awaited 'right of passage' item ever!
A paper hanger for your inside mirror, which clearly stated the letter "A" or "B" or even "G" on it, telling everyone that you are one of the select few (well, select 100 maybe) who will be given green light to board the next channel tunnel train any time soon. . . . .
Well . . .  as soon as you have snaked your way by car through the maze of lanes designed by some crazed lunatic with the planning ability of a donkey suffering from sunstroke leading up to the shops at the terminal.
These lovely shops with their alluring perfumes, spirits, fags and ever so cringe-worthy tourist items to take over for the Krauts, such as an apron with Big Ben on it or some place-mats showing the London Tube Map (what the hell would they do with this over in Cologne???) really make your heart leap for joy and make the journey worthwhile.

The prices are not bad and my brother Tom's week-long begging for Whisky does usually pay off, as I buy some nearly every time I go.
Pretty, shiny screens let you know in English and 'en Francais' that passengers with the letter "A" (yipee!!) should now return to their vehicles and make their way to the train, upon which a small horde of purposeful looking people stride towards the exits in order to get to the train before the others.
The Firefly is not entirely clear why this is done as the train clearly does not leave until everyone with the letter "A" is on board.

The initial problem of your vision being totally obscured by a paper hanger half the size of your gorram windscreen can easily be overcome by not putting the bloody thing up in the first place!!
Past the shops the lanes with their twist and turns continue. Only now they have added speed bumps, dangled metal rods from the top and take pictures of your exhaust system juuuust in case your car is anything but bog standard!
The British passport control is next where (and why do they even care???) glum looking officers scan your passport to see if you can be allowed to leave these green and pleasant shores.
Now some 17 year old Herbert swipes your steering wheel to ensure that you have washed your hands after your last dirty bomb assembly.
All however is well and we progress to the French passport control. They don't give a sh*t - and nor is anyone else in Europe these days and so don't even look at us.
Now we get to the section where the lanes designer finally lost it and blew his gorram brains out, as the lanes multiply, go here, there and everywhere with red crosses and green lights trying to ensure that even the world's densest person will eventually find his/her way to the place where all cars with letter "A" queue up behind the final barrier which will lift 20 minutes before departure of the train!
Ooohh, how the British love to queue!! Some things never change.

Last time we got to that barrier 35 minutes before lifting time and as I was tired and still had a lot of driving before me I asked my lovely wife to keep a keen eye on the barrier whilst I took a quick nap.
I awoke with the sound of engines revving and cars moving off and as I turned my head towards my wife to complain she was, back-rest reclined, lying in a flip-top head position snoring softly.
Happy days!!
You might be forgiven for thinking that this is a pretty arduous way to travel but it still beats the ferry with its many puking passengers (one woman threw up into her duty-free bag, which was hilarious but not very appetising) and an unpredictable sea which on more than one occasion has tried to turn the boat over!

This time however we arrived at the Channel Tunnel and a screen (having read our number plate) greeted us with "Hello Mr. Firefly" and proceeded to ask some simple Yes/No questions, spat our a paper hanger and we were on our way to the shops for Tom's Whisky.
As we got there . .  all the shops were closed!!
I ask you: What good are shops when you cannot buy stuff??
That is like going to the cinema only to eat popcorn!
The coffee bar in the centre was however open and both my darling and I were ready for a wake-up coffee.
There was however nobody there to serve and after 5 minutes standing around, a woman arrived with the words: "You want tea?"
"Nope, coffee is what we are after!"
"Sorry, I don't know where the lady is that works here and I don't know how the coffee machine works" was her final sentence before vanishing.
Another 5 minutes passed and finally another woman arrived who, considering we had already waited 10 minutes, was in no hurry to greet us and ask what we wanted.
Finally she walked towards us and I (trying to make a joke) said: "Aah! There you are! Thank goodness! We thought you might have been abducted!!"
"Well I need to take a break every now and then" she flared in a Scottish accent.
"A break from what?? Standing??" I replied turning around to peruse the totally empty area and to see my wife laughing uncontrollably.

"What's with the shops" I asked quickly before she could spit into our coffees.
"It's not worth keeping open at night" she replied.

So, dear readers of the Firefly. There you have it.
In a recession stricken time it is best to close shops or at least ensure that nobody is available to serve you.
One question???
Why direct cars to the shopping area in the first place? Is it just to take the Micky??
The Fly is off to open a shop just before the Channel Tunnel complex saying:

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness I nearly pee-d myself reading this - you should write another book! Do try to continue to see the beauty in life though...including its quirky-ness :)