Hyperbolic movement (or lack of it)
There's a peculiarly-silly woman, apparently stuck in Spain, interviewed on the BBC news. She's taking time out to blame Gordon Brown, by name, for the travel problems caused by the Icelandic volcano.
So, it's time for Malcolm's own fuss-in-Channel, continent cut orff! travel nightmare.
Many years since, it was the habit of the Lady-in-his-Life, Malcolm and their developing brood to evacuate London as soon as the summer term ended, and to return only a few days before the autumn term began. This was regarded as a recipe for regaining sanity. After the first week or so, the traumas of teaching in London dissipated. There then ensued a fortnight when life was bearable. Then the tensions would again start to mount.
On this occasion, driving up through La France Profonde, a stage at a time, catching the last smidgeons of culture for another few weeks, the news came through. Revolting French fishermen were blockading the Channel ports over some grievance, of which they seemed to have an endless supply. This was a time long before the Channel tunnel.
So, the route was diverted to Zeebrugge, from where ferries were still operating.
It was also a time before the Euro made border crossings less painful. But also when it was exceedingly difficult to get a filling station to accept UK credit cards.
Suddenly the Lady-in-his-Life prompted Malcolm to note that the needle on the fuel gauge was very low. What to do? Stop and change money into Belgian francs? So Malcolm did a mental calculation: kilometres to go, divide by 1.6 to get miles, compare with expected fuel consumption. Hmm: should be OK.
That, of course, failed to account for the queues and delays into Zeebrugge port.
However, in due course, the car made it up the ramp, onto the ferry. The boat's siren blasted. The massed ranks of Brits spontaneously burst into a derisive Rule Britannia to spite those Froggies.
So far so good.
Fortunately it was down the ramp off the ferry. Which was when the fuel tank finally ran dry.
A customs official gave Malcolm a lift to the nearest filling station, where it was necessary to buy a can to contain a few litres. By the time Malcolm had paid all his dues, it remains to this day the most costly fuel he has ever bought.
Oh, and on the way back up the M2, late at night, while it was tipping down with rain, the car developed a flat. Fortunately it was possible to coast it under a bridge, and do the illegal tyre-change in shelter.
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