Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Eurostar disruption: Chaos and Kebab Man in Calais

Cross-channel holidaymakers became condensation-inflicted refugees last weekend after the suspension of Eurostar services between London and Paris, and I was unfortunate enough to be one of them.

I wasn't among the sorry few to be stranded in the Channel Tunnel for 16 hours without heating, food or water - but I did, like thousands of others, try to get back to London by boarding a ferry in Calais.

In hindsight, I would rather have built a sleigh from splintery fence posts and been towed to the ferry port by a Parisian poodle with a problème gastrique.

But the very helpful and patient (no sarcasm intended) Eurostar staff at Gare Du Nord insisted that sea travel was the best option, and issued passengers with a hotel budget for the night and free train tickets to Calais - because Eurostar trains cannot cope when it's a bit nippy out.

Following a delayed departure from Paris the following morning and a mass embarkation of Les Rosbifs at Lille, we made it to Gare de Calais Ville, the armpit of the French rail network. It took one hour to exit the station, such was the number of stranded Englishmen, women and children.

Two coaches stood statically at the head of a scrum of big dads wanting to travel to the ferries, with these the only vehicles provided by Eurostar, the ferry terminal and local authorities to the port.

Befriending some fellow strandees, the best course of action was to walk the miserable two miles to the ferries - luckily, we flagged down a taxi en route, the driver of which was the recipient of a few je t'aimes.

It was snowing and cold on arrival and the queue stretched far outside the ticket office. Then a man-pig turned up (bottom left of pic), shouting to everyone that he was cold and wanted to go inside - as if the other few thousand people were there to build northern France's biggest snowman.

This individual was a disgrace to humanity - a selfish, loud-mouth lover-of-kebabs who thought he was god's gift to comedy and interpersonal skills, when in truth he was a foul, vomit-inducing sight whose every breath triggered a mucous-infested vocal cord.
He sounded like a breathy elephant having an orgasm in your ear, interspersed with a rhino stampeding through a Walkers crisp factory.

I'm no fattist - but this man got through three king-size packets of crisps in a matter of minutes, washed down with a few tins of Sprite. Dessert consisted of Calais ferry terminal's finest deep fried potatoes. I cannot stress how bad this smelt for anyone within 100 metres of this one-man junk food feast machine.

His gorging was punctuated by attempts to force in-front of everyone. Naturally, I challenged his pushings - "Don't you fucking take the piss out of me, I just want a ticket", was his eloquent reply. I may have said something at this point which contradicts the non-fattist stance outlined previously.

Without launching into a tirade of abuse against a man that none of you have probably seen or are unlikely to ever see, the more frustrating aspect of my 13-hour journey between the French and British capitals was that no-one seemed to know what was going on. I spent three hours standing on the same tiles in the terminal building, unable to move for fellow passengers and without any information about when the next ferry would be departing.

The boredom and anger dispersed for a moment when one guy started playing Knockin' On Heaven's Door on guitar - a welcome distraction for those contending with man-pig.

More waiting, more confusion, more anger, but we finally boarded a ferry and reached the White Cliffs, with the promise that shuttle buses would transport Eurostar passengers to Dover Priory railway station for the onward journey to St Pancras. This did not happen.
So, just a couple of things to prepare ahead of my next trip to Paris - I need to find a fence and get one of these temperament-perfect pooches. Bon voyage pour maintenant.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha!!! Love it! Must have been traumatising. Hope you don't have any nightmares over man-pig!