Once again apologies for the lack of posting of late. I’ve been back to Britain visiting my 104-year-old father after his bad fall a few weeks back. The good news is he’s doing well, is back in his home, and learning the intricacies of manoeuvering a wheelchair through narrow spaces. He’s not quite ready yet for the grid at Silverstone, but given time…I’d not put anything past him!
My French Peugeot 407 performed very well in covering the one thousand or so miles of the round trip, but if I’m to spend more time in the UK I’m considering the purchase of a German motor car. I’ve noted that the plethora of BMWs, Mercedes, and Audis continually zooming past me at around 100mph in the outside lane of the British motorways, now have a special dispensation from the traffic police to travel at whatever speed they like without fear of speeding fines.
I consider this a nice gesture by the UK police force. After all, if you can afford one of these powerful, luxury, motors it’s only right you should be able to raise a finger to the rest of us poorer mortals legally bound to seventy miles an hour.
While on the subject of UK traffic, it’s an absolute delight to return to the roads of France where, certainly in Brittany, the motorways are relatively free of traffic, roadworks almost non-existent, and driving once more becomes the pleasure I remember it used to be in Britain back in the fifties and sixties.
The British road system has reached virtual gridlock. Long stretches of motorway are restricted by seemingly never-ending roadworks. Motorists are told these highways are being converted to SMART motorways, no doubt to convince drivers that in years to come, when it’s all finally completed, there’ll be ample space for all and Britain will again become a motorist’s utopia.
Frankly it all smacks of another of Boris Johnson’s tall tales, given that all they’re doing is converting the hard shoulder into a fourth carriageway. Presumably, some glib civil servant has decided that as vehicles are more reliable than fifty years ago, and given four lanes, there’ll no longer be any accidents so the hard shoulder won’t now be required for its originally designated purpose. Anyway, the police and emergency services can always abseil down from a helicopter, if required.
It’s time for a new law in the UK forcing supermarkets to provide ear plugs to all their customers. Having frequented both Morrisons and Tescos during my time in the country I was appalled by the noise levels in these emporiums. Given the sheer volume being produced by children screaming and running wildly around the aisles…
…coupled with an even louder cacophony emanating from parental throats, as they try vainly to control their offspring’s outbursts, and all homogenised with some off-key pop singer plus band blaring out of the speakers above their heads, it must have the guy running the hearing aid centre down the other end of the mall rubbing his hands with glee.
In one branch of Tescos I asked the young man at the cash desk how he put up with the incessant racket. He leaned closer towards me and shouted, “Pardon!” I made a gesture indicating, “Don’t bother,” and trundled my cart rapidly out the store.
Back in France I needed groceries and headed for the local Leclerc superstore. It’s on par with a Tesco or Asda. There, I found peace. The children walked quietly alongside their parents, the smaller ones sat silently in their cart seats observing the activities around them. There was no music blaring; no kids loudly demanding the latest toy or sweet and screaming blue murder when denied. Shopping in France is a pleasant experience, after which one does not require two hours in bed with an ice-pack.
I lived in Britain for over fifty years. I left it seventeen years ago to live in America. While I’m no fan of the United States, the UK is now bottom of the list when it comes to traffic gridlock, spoiled, badly behaved children, and over-testosterone-fuelled, self-centred individuals with way too much money, tear-arsing around in expensive German automobiles.
France has much to teach the British. What a pity they voted Brexit and decided to go it alone. Still, on second thoughts, Europe may well be better off without them.