Fantastic Fun. . . . . .draising (1985)
For many who went to university, Rag week was seen as the perfect excuse to raise merry hell, get merry and do so all in a good cause. Like many things at Loughborough, it was done with enormous pride & competitiveness.
A sponsored hitch hike to Paris seemed like a great idea to have a ball in Paris, FOC, as well as to meet people from different walks of life. . . . . 'Student or unemployed' was often the first question asked by a kind-hearted motorist.
Problem was, as a fresher (first year student) Phil & I seemed to pick all the wrong rides. Our car was involved in a crash on the way to Dover on the M20 approach - he ran into the back of a car and then told us that his brakes had needed work, but he hadn't bothered to get them fixed! We needed an upgrade in lift quality.
Not deterred, we hatched a new plan; while on the ferry, Phil & I chatted to a married (?) couple who were on their way to Paris for a romantic weekend. Fantastic - as we arrived on the car deck we couldn't believe our luck as we climbed aboard their executive rocketship - plush leather interior, polished especially for the occasion, with the famous propellor badge signifying it was the finest Bavaria had on offer. Combine this with a friendly, interesting and chatty couple and a comfortable ride all the way toParis, we felt set up for a perfect weekend. Until, things went pear shaped. A wrong turn had forced a left turn at a cross roads while still in Calais. A loud bang was followed by a screech of out of control car tyres by our 'co-banger', then thud. Suddenly all was quiet while our driver assessed the results of his mistake.
Rearranged rocketship, now rather a lot of twisted metal at the front, tyre fouled by the twisted metal - our stroke of genius at organising our lift on the ferry left us all forlorn at the side of the road with plenty of fellow hitch-hikers with a long way to go. That was nothing, of course compared with the dashed hopes the gent had of any canoodling that night in his cosy Paris hotel; instead dealing with French Police, an upset wife and a rabble of onlookers who had witnessed one of his less proud moments of rocketship pilotage.
Needless to say, as two blokes, we failed to keep up with the teams that included a female student. In this 'PC' world, that sounds awful, but it just happens to be true. So we stayed, tucked up in an Abbeville bordello, huddled in sleeping bags, waiting for things to go bang in the night. We awoke in the sagging centre of the worn out double bed, rather closer than we had intended, but gladly kept separate by our sleeping bags, not only from each other, but from any other forms of life lurking in the mattress.
With no longer than a two hour wait (good in France), Alain Prost and his wife picked us up. We flew past all sorts of traffic until on the outskirts, he ducked inside a car in an ill-judged undertake manouvre and following a 50 yard skid rearranged some other chap's pride and joy. Needless to say, he only thought he was Alain Prost, but lacked the talent. Judging by his wife's nonchalance, it was not his first attempt at a racing manouvre that had resulted in a rather long delay!
An uneventful return and a couple of hundred pounds for charity set our thoughts for trying it again, but in style. We were out of bright ideas on how to vet drivers for their accident records, so after three years of broadening our horizons, as final year students, we repeated the challenge. . . . . . . . .
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