A sad farewell
- French car goes to the grave.
Barry Paton of the
Salignac Foundation where you can learn to be a filmaker
My beloved little
Citroen BX has finally given up.
Yesterday I was on the way to lunch with someone who Fiona has known
about for many years in the dance world. He has recently moved to The
Dordogne and had phoned us after seeing our Press Release in the local
paper. Off we went one of the best and warmest days that we have had
this year. A bottle of Rose and some information about ourselves and
away we go.
I deliberately did not have any breakfast, apart from my usual coffee
and bread, in order not to spoil my appetite for lunch. It was, after
all, an important occasion for Fiona. I should have known!
The village in which we would meet Dotty, an elegant lady driving an
old Dutch Volvo (these were our instructions) is some 80 miles away
from us. Bowling along in fine form we passed various places that we
new and recognised until we started to go into the hinterland and we
began to get a bit lost. Not seriously, you understand, but we realised
we were going to be about half an hour later than we intended. Stop
and phone seemed the sensible thing. We didnít want Dotty waiting
forever for us and we would get there shortly. I think at that point
we were only about 10/15 miles away. Phone box was found and I stopped
to let Fiona make apologies. "Sorry we got slightly - lost but
we'll be there shortly" That sort of thing.
I started the car and we were quite happy we had done the proper thing
by phoning and off we went for about 20 yards when I realised that something
was wrong. It wasn't the smoke coming from under the back of the car,
I didn't notice that 'till later. It was the noise from the back. I
turned calmly to Fiona and said, "I think something has happened."
and stopped the car. Jumping out and going to the back I saw that the
(almost new exhaust) lying almost on the road with vast amounts of smoke
coming from underneath. There was also liquid on the deck as well. Oops!
My first thought that fuel had leaked, I had just filled up the tank
a few miles back. Then I realised that there was a problem with the
suspension pipes for which Citroen are renowned. Great when working,
problem when not.
Now I don't want to go into the technical details, but the brief explanation
is that if you lose the fluid then nothing works. No brakes, no steering,
no suspension, no nothing even. Problem. However, we are beside a phone
box. Bonus. We are beside some houses. Bonus. Hot Sunday lunchtime in
France. Definitely not a bonus. The French take lunch very seriously,
especially if it is warm. After a couple of attempts to see if I can
solve the problem. I am of course wearing a white shirt and doing my
best to keep Fiona calm. "No problem" I say knowing in my
heart of hearts that I was a serious problem, I had known for about
a year that my car was going to give up at some point but not this way.
It was 16 years old and a bit tired.
The chap in the local house was extremely helpful in offering us a hammer
and suggesting we phoned the Pompiers (fire brigade) and how he had
never had a Citroen, always a Peugeot, because Citroens are always trouble.
Despite all this we were resigned to doing something so Fiona phoned
the Pompiers (afterwards we discovered it was the Gendarmes) with the
effect that a breakdown wagon came about half an hour later and took
us to a garage. The driver/mechanic had to stop off for the keys of
this on the way. As with most mechanic or plumbers I could see in his
face that it was really a bit of a lost cause. Of course, I am still
confident that a matter of a small pipe to be repaired and the hiking
up of the exhaust, should be no problem. I always was an optimist.
After damaging (my almost new) exhaust several times, the mechanic put
my car up on the hoist, and had a good look at the damage. Well, Guess
what? The Gallic shrug came into play. I had a look for myself and I
must agree I was shocked at what I saw. Had I gone around a few more
corners and had to hit the brakes. Well we would have been wrapped around
a tree or worse. Logistics then came into play. If the car couldn't
be fixed, how were we to get home? Fortunately there was a train to
reasonably close to us, but only at 7pm. At this point it is 2.30. This
was only 10 miles and 5 and half hours. Anyway it is beautiful scenery
if you ever travel from Perigueux to Sarlat. I recommend it If you are
not in a hurry.
The taxi cost me £20 to the station. The petrol that was left
in the car was £25. The train fare was £17 and we had to
phone a friend to take us the last 10 miles home. But and it is a big
but, I am glad it happened there and then because the poor old car could
have cost us our lives had we continued without knowing.
This weekend I am going on location to the South of France and was supposed
to be taking with me over $20000 of film and video equipment. It
so happens that I am working for The Learning Channel. I think
that I have learned. I am taking a hire van! I am also now looking for
a new? car.
The positive news? Well it saved me the effort of trying to fix the
sun roof which jammed last week after not being used for 5 months!
© Barry C Paton June 2001
The Salignac Foundation in France are running the following courses
over the next few months:- 11th to 15th JUNE. Video Production Techniques
25th to 29th JUNE. Screenwriting/directing course with writer/director
SEE THE REVIEW OF THIS COURSE IN THE JUNE ISSUE OF TOTAL FILM MAGAZINE
ON PAGE 138. (OUT NOW!)
9th to 13th July and 23rd to 27th JULY Video Production Techniques Course.
We are also running two courses in August and two in September. These
courses are all 5 days in the South West of France. Space is limited,
so book early. For prices and dates please contact us at Barry Paton
BSc Video Training Courses The Salignac Foundation rue Fenelon Salignac
Eyvigues 24590 FRANCE +33 (0)5 53 29 94 06 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org