Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Gaul of it

Authors preamble.

Collateral damage from continued workplace restructuring has left me with a somewhat swelling mailing list. As colleagues have left I have diligently signed them up for my almost daily digest. Now I am leaving I have started to add people who are staying behind. For new readers who were not around before my last adventure it was then I was struck with the sensation of treading water as I rapidly ran out of things to write about.This time around the treading water is more akin to drowning. Woe is me. Last night in my last vestiges of consciousness I did have a fantastic idea for a story. Please do not adjust your screens. This could be true......

Following a six month tenure on a large and luxurious yacht Anna and I decided we should really see a bit more of France. Financial and time limitations meant we only spent a couple of days in Paris. Antibes was thoroughly enjoyable but we had spent more time in other parts of Europe since.

Our grand plan was to purchase a suitably French car with a picnic hamper holder (boot) and wine bottle stands (door cubby holes) and drive in a both a lackadaisical and interested fashion across France to catalog and enjoy its essence.

Naturally we did not take any maps and our provisions were limited to bottles of wine, and a picnic hamper of cheeses, meats and French bread.

It was in the back of beyond that our soundly designed and engineered vehicle started to stage a revolution against us and we were left stuck under a large oak tree cursing with choice phrases learned from ten different countries.

Two bottles of wine and half a kilogram of cheese later our speech had developed a charming slur and the car had been forgotten about. Things were almost pleasant. We were intrigued to see a couple of very mustached locals getting closer.

I cant say these two people looked anything but normal. One of them was incredibly large, wore a pair of striped pants, green belt and had a pair of pig tails. He was also carrying an unfeasibly large rock. The smaller of the two was just as odd. Clothes from another century dotted his small frame he also had a hat of sorts with two large wings pointing skyward.

An exchange of greetings ensued. Sadly our French or lack there of let us down. I could have sworn they were intermingling French with Latin. Through some very expressive sign language the car was quickly identified as our problem. Neither of them had telephones. The smaller of the two muttered a few choice phrases at the large one. It was then that the Pig tailed fellow propped his rock up beside the oak and promptly lifted our car on top of his head and started walking off into the forest.

Naturally having your car towed in such an unconventional manner is very unsettling. We were left scrambling around picking up our impromptu lunch and followed the pair off into the forest. The big chap set a cracking pace and it wasn't long before we came upon civilization of sorts.

Imagine if you will a BC village with wooden fortifications. Plenty of people milling about. I actually think there was a mill. Our car was gently dropped down in front of the local mechanic. I say mechanic loosely because he appeared to be a blacksmithy antique dealer. He sized up our vehicle with a quizzical look and we were ushered off to a performance of sorts.

I say performance because the Artist was clearly not a musician. His comedy routine was painful and I struggle to think what he could have done in the Village that was useful. The audible squeals and accompaniment was a cacophony of pain.

Our gracious hosts then took us to visit the village elder. Clearly a live action role player he was dressed in a flowing white robe and went through a long and lengthy ritual before presenting us with a liqueur of sorts to take away with his. He was at pains to stress the strength of the liqueur with various gesticulations.

Our return visit to our car was mortifying. The engine and roof had been removed. The steering column had been replaced with a long rope and an assortment of bells. Straw had been stuffed into the seats to elevate us high enough to see........ a pair of shackled horses. My fear of horses are well documented. With the whole village surrounding us to celebrate us getting on the road again it took a herculean effort to stifle a scream of anguish at our circumstances.....

It was then I had an epiphany of sorts. This village was becoming increasingly familiar. It was in fact the last village in Gaul fighting the Roman invasion. They were stuck in a time warp or were we?

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