An excerpt from ‘Rides of Passage’

This is an excerpt from my latest book, which I wrote with my eldest son Matthew:

Matt goes in search of water while I remove myself to a decent distance away from ‘les sanitaires’. This puts me just across the road from the church and the inevitable war memorial, and arguably the only roundabout for miles around.

I do not see the actual impact but I certainly hear the sound of a calamity. I turn to look towards the roundabout again. A car, attempting to go around the island in the middle, has misjudged the distance and crashed into the kerbing on the far side. The front suspension has not coped well with this, and in consequence the right front wheel is now running at 90 degrees to the direction of travel. At moments like this you don’t know where to look, but I do spot the passenger exiting the vehicle and try to kick the errant front wheel straight. A very noble gesture, given he is wearing flip-flops.

The car is going nowhere until a burly van driver arrives and assists in pushing it into the nearby church car park. I pretend to be taking photos of the war memorial, but manage to sneak a couple of the damaged car. After the collapsing exhaust episode in La Pouëze, I am beginning to think that car maintenance is something else the French do not worry about. I find this rather odd, given the hair-raising speeds at which they drive and how intimate they like to get with the rear bumper of the car in front.

© Arthur Lamy

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