Some people are not quite sure whether they dream in colour or black and white. My problem was whether I was dreaming with the sound turned on or off. There was a rhythmic banging noise and it was coming from either inside my dream or from just outside the four poster bed. Then I realised my eyes were open, and the banging gave way to a loud shout.
“Howay, man, yer lazy bugga, there’s a train to catch. Get yer kit on and meet me outside the front door. Yer have five minutes and nay time for breakfast. NOW MOVE YERSEN”
There was a final double thud on the door and silence. I focused on my watch, I must have slept in. No, it was just a few minutes past seven o’clock. Anyway four and a half minutes later I was standing on the front steps of the Charles V next to a bemused concierge who was gazing at the sight in front of him. Shazza, who was wearing a particularly tight pair of jeans, had just whistled a taxi to a stop and was bent over, her head was sticking through the passenger window. I suspect the taxi driver had quite a view too!
An instant later and a “Wells don’t just stand there dripping all over the man’s steps, get the bags in the taxi!” and I was in the back falling sideways as the car took off from the kerb, tyres screeching and smoking. “Le Gare De Lyon et rapidement, tres rapidement, allez, allez, vite, vite.”
“I did nt know you spoke French, Shaz,” I murmured trying to sound casual as I tried to sit up and re-move myself from her lap.
“Like a native, pet. Plus rapidement, plus rapidement, le train n’attendra pas.”
The sound of car horns was all around us. We rocketed through one set of lights on red, then another, swerved onto the wrong side of the road, dived back to overtake a car on the inside. More honking, screeching brakes, Gallic gestures. A pedestrian jumped back. I saw more people walk onto a crossing and closed my eyes, expecting to hear a thud and see someone starring back through the windscreen at me. Suddenly I was thrown forwards and the car slid to a sideways stop, bumping onto a kerb.
“Gare de Lyon, Mam’selle. N’oubliez pas vos sacs et bon voyage. Vive la France en Afrique du Sud..eh.”
The TGV travels at over a 150 miles per hour, or slightly slower than a Paris taxi, and here I was sipping a coffee watching the French countryside slip by. In less than 3 hours we would be in Marseilles.
“Bacon butty, pet? I got that nice chef at the hotel to knock up a few whilst you were still fast asleep. Sorry about the rush, and for spoiling yers beauty sleep. A last minute change of plan. Fancy some nice sea air, a few days on the Mediterranean? Thought I could top ma tan up before the first match. See, I’ve got some white bits. So I’ve booked us on a boat, Marseilles to Alexandria.”
I stopped mid chew, not so much at the sudden flash of ‘white bits’ but at the thought life on the ocean wave. I was beginning to feel seasick already. This may well be my last blog for a few days. Pour maintenant, au revoir!