Just returned from a 3 day sojourn to France with my older abrother.
The overnight ferry pushed on through a sea of snoring to arrive on time in Le Havre. I drove as my stoic brother examined his seat belt and air bag and quietly contemplated the possibility of an afterlife.
We arrived at my brother’s mobile home on Friday morning. I drove my brother to a nearby town and I helped him from the car. We stocked up on cheap vin rouge atthe local supermarket. My brother had been advised to buy some tinned duck which was a French delight. He searched in vain and exclaimed that it was hard to find. ‘Yes, it’s cunard.’ I offered. I fought my way out of a traffic jam in the car park caused by all the other cars driving the wrong way around.
Then off relaxing and sipping coffee in the sunshine and watching la filles float by. Suitably chilled, I drove back to the mobile home and after a few drinks to steady my brother’s nerves, we were ready to go clubbing French-style.
The onsite club had a warm and friendly atmosphere. I was unable to understand what was going on due a language problem. They could not speak English. The lights flashed on and off and I got up to dance. my brother sat me down and explained that it was not a disco but faulty French lighting installed during Le resistance. I went to la toilette to wash my hands. I had heard that in Australia the water went down the plug hole clockwise. I watched to see which way it would leave the sink in France. It didn’t!
The restaurant menu was incomprehensible. In order to blend in and look like a seasoned French diner, I ordered escargots but instead they bought snails, which despite being dead, could have made their way to the table more quickly on their own. Like the charming waitress they reeked of garlic.
The steak was superb and accompanied by a several p
etite pomme frites that appeared to have been carefully counted and checked to make sure each was no bigger than a matchstick and exactly the right shape to conform to EEC regulations. My brother asked me how I found the greens. ‘I lifted up one of the chips and there they were.’ I replied.
The waitress was more generous with her smiles than her
pomme frites. I returned her smiles and answered oui, oui, merci uh, uh, to anything she asked. Unsure what we had agreed to, we retreated to the mobile home to watched a 20 year old movie and reminisce about ‘the good ol’ days,’ when we were part of an Empire.
On Saturday we went on a marathon country walk to help restore our equilibrium. We drank plenty of beer to avoid dehydration. In the evening, the village restaurant was closed for refurbishment, which in France means changing the table cloths. So we headed back to the club restaurant and repeated our French dining experience. I was overcome by a feeling of
deja vou and the smell of garlic.
The club manager swept past sporting a magnificent, broom like moustache, the ultimate French tickler. ‘Popular with the ladies.’ I suggested to my brother. ‘Uh, uh! He replied, moving his lower jaw in and out like a drawer opening and closing. I suddenly realised with horror, that he was turning native.
After dinner we watched two tall teenage French girls knocking pool balls around with great vigour. Even viewing them as a set and adding their ages together did little to narrow our age gap. Exhausted by these calculations, we retreated to the mobile home and watched TV as befits mature men.
Morning came and marinated in wine and garlic we headed for the ferry that was to return us to reality. my brother looked ten years older as I helped him from the car again and into his house, late on Sunday. Still we had survived the great adventure and our successful bonding exercise was at an end.
I staggered through my own front door . My wife looked surprisingly refreshed and happy despite being starved of my company.
‘You back already?’ She commented but hugged me when she saw my vin rouge!
Viva La France