Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Le couloir d'incertitude*



Apologies for the paucity of updates of late - it's been a busy couple of weeks, what with getting French Magazine to print (Issue 75 will finally be on sale on April 24th – look out for the Loire château on the cover and a free bagged issue of the Traveller in France) and then swanning off to the Lake District for Easter.

Given my family name, you might reasonably presume that I am a Lakes aficionado or frequenter. But despite my presumed Cumbrian heritage, the weekend's walking and pie-eating break was my very first in the land of "Thwaites" (clearings).

Some brief internet genealogy research (the cheapest kind) had revealed that my forebears may have been notable landownwers and so, seeing myself as some kind of prodigal son, I was expecting a triumphant homecoming as I passed through Kendal, gateway to the Lakes, onto Windermere and up to Bassenthwaite, the northernmost and least touristy of the waters where I would be staying.

There would surely be bunting, dancing girls and jugs of ale for the heroic southern softie who finally deigned to step foot up north to be with his brethren. Women and children would weep with joy as I made my way through my unfamiliar homeland, waving flags and knocking out Royal Wedding-style commemorative plates for future generations to either eat hotpot from or put on eBay. Instead, in Bowness I was queue-jumped by a stern-looking Japanese couple itching to get their hands on a battered sausage in Vinegar Joe's chippy. I ask you! Still, I'm sure there's a Stuart Maconie-style travelogue waiting to be to written on the subject.

In the meantime it's on with French Magazine Issue 75, which will feature, among many other Francophile-friendly delights, the changing face of Champagne – the region, not the drink – and the rise of Golf in France.

Talking of sports that we invented and turned out to be not very good at, there's a lovely piece on French cricket in today's Indpendent. I love a good day at the cricket – I can usually be found eyeing the cider tent by 11am at the annual Bath Cricket festival – and feel sure the game would catch on in France if, contrary to what the organisers and journalist hope, the French ditch the 20-20 format and opt for five-day matches.

To my mind, they wouldn't get bored at all. After a delayed start time thanks to whatever transport strike was holding up spectators en route to the game, then a four-hour, five-course lunch followed by an obligatory afternoon snooze, there would be very little cricket played – perhaps ten overs aside. Then it would be time for an apéro and off to dinner.

*Geoff Boycott's lovely phrase "corridor of uncertainty" might also be applied to the English Channel given the recent boat blockades. Ce n'est pas le creekeet, as he might say, and I hope that none of you have had your holidays ruined. If you have, to cheer yourself up just imagine, for a moment, Boycott commentating on French telly.

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