Mr Forgeron in Italy (1 Viewer)

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Tony S

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I've just received an update on the travels of Antoine Forgeron (France's wiliest 'camping carist')

The big trip this summer was to Italy; right down south in fact. Mrs Forgeron and yours truly gorged themselves with local wine, sea food and fresh pasta and we have an album full of photos of the old mattresses, stoves and fridges that local contempory artists recuperate and abandon all over the place. This is to accentuate no doubt, the contrast of modern consumerism as opposed to nature's untouched state. At least, this was the most plausible explanation we found for the frequency of such sights. Another theory is that the mafia has won all the refuse collecting contracts (waste management) and nobody dares complain when they don't do the job properly.

We never had any run ins with the local branches to report, though as we ventured further south, we did get a few evil looks from the locals when we refused their offers to 'look after' the motorhome whilst we visited their stylish town or crumbling village. We never paid and only had one wing mirror ripped off, several gouges in the bodywork, a couple of slashed tires, a bit of graffiti and a broken windscreen to show for it, which just goes to show that by being firm it's possible to resist intimidation.

The trip ended with a bit of a mix up on a motorway service area just back over the frontier, overlooking Monaco, when I unwittingly teargassed a policeman. The rather nice gendarme on the receiving end had visited us early on in the evening to say that because of frequent thefts and the large numbers of shifty characters in the region (I'd already had a few by then and I was convinced he was referring to Prince Albert and his henchmen) we shouldn't open the door to anyone, even if they claimed to be from the police.

So, we were well prepared for any eventual try ons. After walking Loony (our little dog), we settled down for the night and then, half an hour later, sure enough, a knock and a 'Police, open up please' woke us up. Loony immediately let out his his irritating, high pitched nerve grating 'bark' that he employs when he's frightened, (when he hears sliding door sounds, odd noises in the house, the fridge coming on etc) and Mrs Forgeron (who detests being woken up) shot up bolt upright and shouted 'gas him!', 'OK,' I cried, jumping down from the bed, and let off a stream of the aerosol CS gas we always keep handy in the dog's direction. 'No, not the dog you fool, the trickster at the door'. I quickly slid open the side window and gave another blast towards the intimidating black outline. Unluckily, (for him) it was the same policeman, come back to tell us that we'd left the exterior light on!

No real damage done though as the battery was still charged and we managed to pull up the bed and hack off before he fully recovered and at least Loony kept quiet for the rest of the trip.

I'm still writing letters to the local press, notably to lobby for the installation of another giant hypermarché for the town and for the abandon of the twice weekly open air markets. According to the local environemental service, who are in charge of the recycling facilities, the town is making a lot of money from the efforts of the town's citizens to separate their rubbish. 750 000 euros a year to be exact, a sum paid into the town's coffers from the sale of the plastic and glass recuperated. 'This sum could drop if people make less of an effort to recycle', warned the local environment official recently, implying that we were all doing a great job consuming all the heavily packaged items the industrials are supplying the supermarkets with and to keep it up. It struck me that the open air markets, where people buy their fruits and vegetables unwrapped and use canvas sacks and straw bags to carry them home in, weren't likely to rake in much money for the town - so we might as well ban them. The hypers, on the other hand, churn out tons and tons each day of wrappings, film, carton, blister packs, shrink wraps etc that go straight in the recycling bins - so why not ask a sixth one to build an outlet locally? The environment chief didn't even reply to this idea!
Well, that's about it for this year. Oh yes, one more thing; we did almost emigrate to Quebec! On a whim, Mrs Forgeron decided we should attend a meeting in Toulouse aimed at enticing people over there. There was a short film illustrating the fabulous variety of this northern, french speaking suburb of the USA, that welcomes immigrants, (especially white, french speaking ones). Then there was a talk, and a very strong, moose urine flavoured liquer cocktail got passed round.

We were totally won over and ready to pack our bags.(mainly because of the cocktail probably, as, in retrospect, Quebec seems to be a very cold place much of the year and in the cities people tend to live underground a lot, the very opposite to this sun- drenched part of France) At the end of the evening, I sidled up to the principal speaker and said 'What a beautiful country you have, and what's more you french Canadians aren't at all stupid, as some people make out, on account of your funny, 'down on the farm' accents. Your idea of sending over all your worst singers to make their careers in France for instance was brilliant'

She gave me a queer look and replied. 'Mais monsieur, those are our best popular artists we exported!' Needless to say that put a lid on the emigration idea. Who could even consider living in the french speaking part of Canada with singers even worse than the ones they turn loose on the french metropolitan public? We then toyed with the idea of moving to Belgium but as they'd sent us Axelle Red (a wishy washy nonentity in a mini skirt who sings like a castrated bat) some years ago we were wondering if she was an example of their 'cream of the crop'. If so, who knows what sort of dire songs, sung by the singers that stayed behind, their radio would be belting out all day long.

We hope to enjoy another year of travelling in France and the rest of europe in our motorhome. On the cards there is even a long overdue visit back to the land of charity shops. (there aren't so many in France as the gouvernment tends to make sure that the health and welfare systems are adequately funded). During our french travels, Mrs Forgeron occasionally looks up from silently solving her Sudokus, as we skim along the 'nationales'. For some reason, she particularly likes to count the giant publicity panels that brighten up the entrances to all the towns and which help to make our trips so pleasant.

So long.....


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