Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Of Mice and Men

I am moved by momentous events to write an extra-curricular blog.

After having successfully (well, almost) negotiated two months of events throughout the US, and a hectic French schedule in Lyon, we ended up yesterday in the delightful Romanesque Mediterranean town of Frejus for an event at the Librairie Charlemagne - a prestigious local bookstore.

We were met by the delightful Valerie Mouton, a former radio journalist who was going to host the event, and lunched in a local restaurant before visiting the oldest cathedral in Europe.

When we turned up for the event itself yesterday evening, the bookstore owner hurried out to let us into the store's private parking area, just off the main street. To do this he had to lower a two-foot high, nine-inch diameter post sunk into the sidewalk. This was a highly sophisticated process that involved jumping up and down on it until it stayed down.

With traffic piling up behind me I waited patiently until it was down, and I was waved forward. Unfortunately, as I passed over it, the damned thing suddenly took it into its head to rise up again. There was a terrible crashing and grinding, and I jammed on the brakes, effectively to find my car impaled from below on the pillar. No way to get it off.

And I had an audience awaiting me in the store!

Mindful of the fact that I had a meeting with my French publisher two hours away at Arles at 9am the following morning, plus twelve hours of driving over the next two days to get me to the book festival at Le Havre, I abandoned my poor, impaled Renault Scenic, to do my duty in the store.

As I spoke of research and inspiration, a mechanic arrived to raise my car up on two jacks, while simultaneously inserting a third between the pillar and the underside of the vehicle to force the pillar down. It took him an hour-and-a-half to free it. My concentration was less than perfect - a little like my French!

Now I cannot take to the road this morning without having the car checked for damage and safety. Even assuming all is ok, I will be several hours late for my appointment at Arles, and the leisurely overnight I had anticipated at home to break the two day drive that lies ahead, will be reduced to a handful of hours.

If there is a problem with the car, God knows how it will go...

In the words of a famous Scot: The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley.

A certain Anglo-Saxon word of mediaeval origin comes to mind!


Carol said...

Eeek!! That does not sound good Dad...hope all is well with the car and you got on your way without too much hassle.

C x

John said...

Where are the photos/video?

John said... will this incident be written into Enzo 6 or Enzo 7?

DJ Kirkby said...

Oh no! I hope everything is ok with your car though I can't imagine it will be :(

vee said...

Oh dear, trust the French to put you into such an awkward situation!!! Hope things get sorted out.. if you need any parts my dad works for Renault!

peter_may said...

All's well that ends well. It turned out that there was no serious damage to the underside of the car - the protective panel did its job and was a bit buckled. So we made it home safe and sound, and lost only an hour before hitting the road. OF course, we had no pics of the momentous event, because La Patronne (who witnessed the entire vehicle rescue while I gave my talk) was too busy bossing the workmen around to take photographs. Sighs. Ah, well, just enough time for a few hours' sleep before setting off at the crack of dawn on the seven-hour drive to Le Havre.

peter_may said...

PS: Look out for a blog (when I get a moment) on my visit to the headquarters of my French publisher, Actes Sud, at Arles. WHAT A PLACE!

Anonymous said...

Hey you didn't thank the guy at the "Renault Minute" garage in Saint Raphael, who got us on the road again... who was named, would you believe, "Enzo Maio" (Yes Maio is Italian for "MAY") Spooky or what!? He got the mechanic to check the car thoroughly and when it was given a clear bill of health, he didn't even charge us for the time!