Arriving to board a car ferry is a great leveller. You can travel the lengths of France and Spain, eat oysters, sleep under the stars, drink your coffee from a bowl and be as affected as I love to be and still, when you arrive at the Ferry queue and join the lines of roof boxed cars, full of sweaty kids and fractious adults scrabbling around for the passports you are what you are. An ordinary Irish person coming home from holidays. Someone who is just the same as the mother in the next car who brought her own tea bags and Superquin sausages. No better, just quite a bit more pretentious.
No rules of the road apply in this queue. Fathers sit without seatbelts with toddlers taking the wheel. Chewing gum is handed out to barely weaned infants (all other distractions in the car consumed miles ago) and people abandon their vehicles to get the air and see what interesting car registrations were to be seen.
Behind us was a sporty little BMW with a surf board strapped to the roof. Which said, I have been on a beach with waves, probably near Biarritz. No big deal, just nine hours’ drive. In my nifty little BMW. The driver sat looking not a little smug. I don’t know why, because board or not, he was still getting on the Ferry.
“He looks a bit like Lorcan.” I said.
My kids, now feral from a few weeks on a campsite in their swimming togs and on a diet of fizzy sweets and chocolate milk immediately started waving and called “Hey Lorcan!”
He gamely waved back until our more adventurous eight year adding “You asshole!”
We had been travelling for five hours (one of which was spent doubling back to a rest stop to rescue sandals I had left on the path.) You can imagine the conversation the preceded that decision.
“Hang on, who has his sandals?”
“You didn’t take his sandals off? We were only there five minutes! Don’t tell me you took them off?”
“It’s ok!” I said, knowing it was not. “I know they’re in the car somewhere. Everybody look around your feet!” The following search resulted in a stray hand knocking the car DVD player lead, disconnecting it and causing National Lampoons European Vacation to stop unexpectedly. Now everyone was upset and The Sandals were nowhere to be found.
My husband reached for the French AA Road Atlas with the patience of someone who spent the hours between nine and twelve that morning figuring out the Krypton Factor that is loading our car with tent and belongings of a family of six. Among which was sadly, only one pair of shoes for our three year old. And we turned back.
So when we got to Roscoff neither of us had the energy to put together a coherent reprimand to outline how shouting insults at innocent strangers is not ok. He had been telling his brothers to sing zipadeedoodah out their assholes since Rennes and we had’nt said a word. (Yes, it was the movie, an altogether inappropriate choice for children. And one we would definitely pick again. It really is very funny.)
So we shushed him, slunk down in our seats and put up the windows. Our youngest steered us very slowly towards the passport checkers, still waving in the rear view mirror at “Lorcan”. And eventually, we boarded the ferry.