Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

It's my fault the French are driving us all crazy

Apart from eight or nine stories, the Daily Mail largely took a break from its anti-Scottish coverage this week to have a go at the French. Their crime? Making Britlanders carry breathalyser kits in their cars.

This Gallic persecution of English (and Other) motorists began with penalties for not carrying a warning triangle or fluorescent safety vest.

That the laws apply to everyone in France is neither here nor, arguably, there. They're clearly anti-British. I'm to blame. Ever since my first - and last - attempt at driving in France, relations between the two countries have deteriorated.

It began when my mate decided to get married. As if that weren't bad enough, he wanted to seal the deal in southern France.

Quelle double-whammy! I loathe weddings and dislike going abroad, finding the walking styles slovenly and the food peculiar.

Still, duty called - as did the bank manager. I'd to bring the then burd down from the Grimland Isles, and reckon the whole deal cost me two grand. Expensive business marriage. Never again.

Someone would have to drive in France as, unfortunately, the wedding wasn't being held at the airport, whereupon I could have gone straight home after the last "I do".

Despite my driving limitations and fear of Europe generally, my manhood was at stake if I let the burd drive.

Although technically male, I've the spatial abilities of a woman and, to reverse-park successfully, need a compass, blocked off streets and a man with a flag.

And that's in normal countries where people drive on the left.

The first problem in France was that I couldn't start the hire car. I'd to return for instructions about sacrificing a chicken on the dashboard. Then I couldn't get the handbrake off, on account of there not being one.

Transpired you'd to press something on the dashboard for that too. Eventually, we lurched forth and the burd started screaming that I was driving too close to the ditch. Women passengers in my cars are always screaming, so I paid no attention. Then we'd to stop at roadworks and I couldn't start the car again.

Foreign persons really like honking their horns, don't they?

Later, we approached the small town where we were staying. It was rush hour.

On a narrow road to the town centre, I hit a bollard or pedestrian and got a flat tyre. I've changed tyres before but need to read the instructions, which were unhelpfully published in French.

The irritatingly pro-active burd meanwhile was fetching the spare tyre from the boot.

A moustachioed man emerged from a barber's shop shouting. I thought he was being droll, so laughed emptily until someone explained he was asking what kind of man lets his burd (L'oiseau) change a tyre.

At this point, I'd a strong urge just to walk away from the situation, leaving everybody and heading for the nearby hills, as the first stage of my journey to Tibet, where I'd spend the rest of my days disguised as a yak.

But we fixed things and, after a further incident involving a badly placed roundabout, the burd did all the subsequent driving.

I wore a kilt to the wedding, and anyone looking up it would find everything gone.

Afterwards, the French Government started persecuting British drivers and the rest, as they say, is history, calumny and Daily Mail headlines.