The old plan becomes the new plan.
October 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
Originally written October 21st.
“We’re definitely going to hell but we’ll have all the best stories to tell.”
The Ballard of me and my Friends – Frank Turner
England was cold and wet when we left it eliminating all doubts that we had ever had about this trip. It was early, the train left at 6.32am and would take us under the sea to Calais in half an hour. We we’re tired, the fact that we had nothing to wake up for meant we had slept all day and stayed up all night. I had slept most of the car journey down to Dover but was awake the second the car hit the train. We were excited, at last our lives had a very misguided direction. We felt the excitement of pioneers of old, just without the overwhelming fear of death if we were to fail. In fact we had something worse to fear, we had to achieve our goal or we would slip back into the depression of dull unemployment. The only problem iss we have no idea what our goal is. I suppose it is for our lives to be different when we return.
The second we hit France the only plan we had that was set in stone was to drive towards Paris and spend the night. An important piece of English culture to our generation is the consumption of alcohol and when 3 three young males are left with half an hour to kill they unfortunately partake in this. So without wishing to draw any legal attention I can think of no way of delicately saying we were drunk as hell. Moss was driving, it wasn’t a vote for confidence when he had to start the car to leave the train and he missed the ignition with the keys more than once. We are extremely aware of the reputation that the French police had for busting speeding British motorists on the on E402 leading away from the channel tunnel. So we aren’t sure how they were going to feel about some pissed up punk English kids doing about 100mph and zig-zagging all over the road. We told Moss it would be a good idea to keep our necks wound in for a little while.
It’s another commonly shared experience being drunk in a passenger seat. But there was something extraordinary about today. There was a strange mix of emotions, the bond of my closest friends on an adventure, the worry of it all being over before it all started if the police caught us, the odd feeling of unity I felt with the surrounding traffic gunning it down the same road, it is us against the world. Even though essentially nothing has changed the roads away from the tunnel seem so French. Every little un-understandable sign carries with it the richness of French culture, even if it was just a blur of blue and white. The sun was shining and this was the start of something. Maxi was smiling in the backseat and we were happy. We are sick of being unhappy for reasons we couldn’t help, now it is our turn to be happy for no reasons at all.
The car bumped and rattled as we peaked its speed, the drink had made us forget our earlier warnings of driving slow and looking after the car, Moss had released the clutch too early many times and sometimes simply forgotten to change gear. We had been driving for around 3 hours when we pulled over for the first time. It wasn’t an elegant arrival at a motorway service station. We were practically falling out of the car. It was a stop near the town of Abberville and it would be our last refuge on the long road to Rouen. Rouen had become our destination for the night at least, we earlier thought about Paris for the first night, but in our drunken stupor and mad romanticism of just driving, we had taken the wrong roads. We have taken a small MP3 style recording device that has been nicknamed “Ernest McLain”, after author Ernest Hemmingway and Film character John McLain, star of the Die Hard films. It was an unlikely combination, and within that we felt its charm lay. Teaching in journalism meant that I would record the any conversations I felt key. This is the first one on there.
Myself : Well then Mr Moss, Where are we Sir?
Moss : We are on the last refuge on the road to Rouen, are we are far to drunk to be on the road anywhere….other then hell, but we are sort of double teaming that.
Myself: And how are you feeling?
Moss: Drunk man, my head is spinning, we nearly went under a 16 wheeler just south of Rue but I think you were asleep for that, we’ve been at this trip for nearly 6 hours and we’ve nearly been killed once, I’m just grateful that I’ve not been caught.
Maxi: Oh man, this trip is going to be nuts, shit kid we are going to get up to some bad shit, Simon if you write a book about this you sure as hell better change my name to something classy.
It was still relatively early in the day; it was just gone two in the afternoon by the time we left that stop. On a normal day we wouldn’t even have been properly out of bed at this point. We had taken some caffeine on board and it meant that Moss was really pushing the car. It was a miracle we hadn’t been caught. On the road I considered the importance of location when writing this blog. As this blog is going to involve a lot of new places. Charles Dickens is one of the greatest writers who ever lived and would go through scene setting in excruciating detail. But isn’t this trip all about the journey? But surely location is important? It makes it more real to the reader? Shit, maybe discussing my writing flaws and poorly prepared writing style in such an open manor will do nothing but underline my poor style.
We soon realised that we could take a quick lap of Rouen on the surrounding motorway and then make it to Paris for nightfall as we had first planned. Indecision defined us. The old plan became the new plan. We saw the Tour de Beurre from a distance. Maybe it was because we were a generation raised on Iphones and broadband but impatience and the ability to not have to set things in stone meant that we were all extremely indecisive. However this decision was one that would change the course of the trip in more ways than one. Nights pulling in and the Paris skyline is starting to puncture the horizon.