Holidays Our little holiday diary

Paris

(Year approx 1980)

This is one of the earlist “holidays” that we ever had. It was a long weekend really, and not a very good one at that. The middle of November, cold, drizzling rain, France, how much worse could it get?

I always fancied myself as a sort of entrepreneur and when I got involved with a sculptress in the Midlands I thought that this would be my real meal ticket. I was as daft then as I am now. She produced limited edition cold cast bronzes sculptures of various figures and life size wildlife, birds and such like. I managed to sell a number of falcon figures to a businessman in South Wales who, I believe gave them as presents to Middle East business associates.

One day, I had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine who was, I always believed, an international businessman who told me that the bronze sculptures would be very well received on the continent and that I should visit a market in Paris to sell them there. He gave me a postcard of a hotel in Paris where he once stayed, saying that it was perfect for the area of the market and we could easily get there from the hotel. We obviously contacted them, (which wasn’t easy as we spoke no French and they seemed reluctant to speak English) and made the necessary arrangements, to stay there as a base to launch our assault on the unsuspecting French art folk. We loaded up my battered old Peugeot 504 Estate Car with a range of bronze pieces and cheerfully headed off from Lytham St Annes down to Dover. What we didn’t take into account was the English customs at Dover banging on about the documentation for the statues which meant that we missed our planned ferry.

Once we got across the channel, we headed towards Paris in the ever increasing gloom owing to the delays. We stopped on the way for refreshments and to give our son Darren a chance to practice his French that he was supposed to be learning at school. A young man in the cafe tried to speak to us in English but was roughly escorted away from us by an older man. We managed a cheese sandwich each!! Diane wanted to go to the toilet and when she went in she had to go past a row of men relieving themselves before she reached the ladies. It came as a shock to the system but she came out smiling. (I often wondered why)!!! It was about ten o’clock at night by the time we reached the outskirts of Paris and of course, it was raining and we had no idea where the hotel was. Luckily, I had taken the postcard (that my friend had given me) with us. I then had a brilliant idea. I found a taxi driver (who couldn’t, or wouldn’t speak English). I gesticulated to him that I wanted him to lead us to the hotel that was on the postcard. Well, he set off like Michael Schumacher and I had to drive like a bat out of hell to keep up with him but I did and we finally arrived at the hotel at nearly midnight. We were grudgingly signed in and were directed to our room. One double bed between the three of us, no heating in the room, freezing cold, we all huddled together and even used one of our overcoats as a blanket to try and keep warm. Ahh! Romantic Paris!!

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