they sat behind me all the way talking some rubbish about the distance to the moon in light years which was just ridiculous so 1 second before the enormous hoover that passed for a plane we were in touched down at Bordeaux aiport I leaned over the back of my chair and pointed the camera out the window behind me to take pictures of wheels and tarmac, causing the 17 year old there to drop his fanta into his lap, short-circuiting his iPod mid-Lost Prophets. that’ll teach him to talk nonsense. he didn’t speak all the way to the terminal, but mind you, that was only about 20 yards, and then he started piping up again in a competition with his brother to see who could be the most ignorant. but it doesn’t matter. we’re in France now and soon we’ll be skipping through fields of sunflowers and peering through arches, laughing and taking pictures and ruffling each other’s hair like they do in those films where they’re trying to show you what an idyllic family life somebody had in flashback before they got trapped in a never-ending spiral of depression in their hotel bedroom following the acrimonious divorce and the kids moving to South America with mum’s new boyfriend just before they throw a tumbler of jack daniels at the tv in despair and then it cuts to a scene of coworkers looking concerned about their appearance and whispering behind their hands just before they get called to the boss’s office with glass walls and they have an animated silent altercation which leads to inevitable termination of employment and them storming out but it’s ok because they’ll meet a beautiful innocence-lost young woman in the alley they’ll spend the rest of the film looking for the meaning of life in elevators and it’ll end and the football will be next or at least a reality programme about perfectly coiffured ex-cops who chase other people’s pets-gone-bad for a living which you shouldn’t really watch but you’re hooked and it’s 3am before you realize it and so begins the never-ending spiral of depression in your hotel room as you have an epiphany of worthlessness during the ad break when you jolt yourself awake to find you’ve dribbled on the remote control and you now have to watch adverts for dog food that comes in foil sachets. forever. or something.
as my Avis Preferred customer profile had the wrong AmEx card details on it before we left, I had to make a regular voucher booking – yes, shock horror, no corporate car hire queue jumping and getting all self-satisfied in the process – we trundled the trolley piled high with suitcases and car seats and hand luggage (lots of it) to the Avis desk and did the driving license/passport/visa/no I won’t crash thankyou stuff and headed for the little kiosk in the car park. as we passed through the terminal doors and out of the air-conditioned relative comfort of the Bordeaux airport terminal building we hit a wall of what could best be described as ‘fricken hot air’. actually, that could probably be describe better, but that’s essentially what it was. 39 degrees and a hot wind blowing across the tarmac and we had that moment were you realise it’s lovely and hot but you know you’re gonna be moaning about it in about 10 seconds you English moany old English persons. anyway, the kiosk turned out to be preferred customers and plebs at the same time. ha ha! so I handed some bits of paper over and they let me know we had an oopel astrah, which I said I know but she said it’s that one over there the silver one and I said that’s an estate and she said sure eet iz and I said fricken a, that’s a bonus and she said nothing and looked at me like a stupid tourist. which is what I was, so I said goodbye and she said nothing and I said thanks and she said something to the guy in the Avis polo shirt who was picking his ear and wiping it on his trousers, so we just wheeled over to the astra, chucked everything in the back, got the kids out again and put them in the back seats, located what looked like the exit and drove straight onto the ring road, going 9 miles in the wrong direction.