Supposedly in the name of safety, they are all fitted with speed limiters which fixes the speed at 90km/h. No matter how hard one presses the accelerator, the truck is governed at this speed. Safety? It’s enough to bore you to death.
Irish and Spanish lorries appear to be exempt from this law, thundering past at more like 110km/h. The point is that, even after two full days of solid driving, we’re still four hundred kilometres from the next AC/DC gig in Paris. So we’re up half the night again. A high-octane, rollercoaster of an audio book is keeping me awake; Namibian sings to himself with the window open.
Then, disaster! The last of six CDs is missing. Don’t you hate that? Just as the audio adventure approaches its zenith, all I get is a recorded monotone: ‘that is the end of CD 5.’ And there’s no bloody CD 6!
It’s worse than that Friday cliffhanger in a soap opera – let’s assume I watch television for a second – when you have to wait the whole weekend for the next episode. To combat the sleepy sensation, I start singing too.
Ah, Paris, you sigh dreamily. Well, I would sigh dreamily, too, if arriving at Gare du Nord on the Eurostar for a filthy weekend. This morning, however, romantic notions are thin on the ground. In fact, my thoughts match the definition of antithesis; this traffic turns any sane man’s thoughts to slaughtering Frenchmen by the dozen.
The great paradox here is that the French – in my humble opinion – have the best roads in Europe. But then there is Paris.
If I leave the French port of Calais, I can estimate almost to the minute what time I will arrive in the Cote d’Azur the following day. To reach Cannes it will take me fourteen-and-a-half hours, give or take ten minutes.
Paris is a different kettle of fish, however. The inner ring road, or “peripherique”, without a single traffic light or crossroads, ought to move fluidly, no? Ha! At 5.30am we discover that the Parisians have closed this major artery without offering a diversion.
A sign reading: ‘Ferme’, and a barrier down at the entrance slip, is all one gets in delightful Paris. Namibian and I are left to thread our way down a parallel avenue past boulangeries receiving the day’s croissants.
On the plus side, though, it feels as if spring is upon us. There are no gambolling lambs, but it’s pleasant to stroll the banks of the Seine in the sunshine, airing our pale toes in sandals. Our colleague, “Gentleman” Steve, taking one look at the gig showers, rashly advises undressing entirely and bathing in the river. We don’t.
Dawdling along the Seine as fully-clothed pedestrians, Namibian and I gawp at the house boats instead. ‘Look, there’s a swimming pool inside that boat,’ I point out. ‘Cor, yeah, that’s a swimming pool, that is,’ he replies. He does that…