I know this sounds like one of those pinching diamond shoes type complaints, I do. I know many people would love to do this, but most of them - am I gender stereotyping? Somewhere in gender neutral, secular heaven (where they are serving Chablis and chips and there is a gigantic Jaeger), my mother is furious with me, but then she couldn't drive - are men and thus not reading this weblog. I do not love it. I like writing about cars, it is amusing and I am extravagantly grateful that someone is kind enough to pay me to do so. But the big expensive ones, the ones that cost more than a racehorse, or a flat, or a flat with a racehorse in it, wearing caviar hoof oil and eating diamonds, scare me to death. I am fast discovering that driving big expensive cars that go VROOM when your foot slips is a job I am even worse at than being a corporate lawyer, and that's saying something. When you drive a massive expensive car, I have also discovered, they make you sign a release form. The first time I signed a release form, it was in Dutch so I had no idea what I was signing. I think it was best that way. The second time, today, I have discovered that I have warranted to drive "en bon père de famille". I swear. The actual form, that I actually signed, has me stating that I will drive like a "good father", look:
(I have just consulted a francophone and apparently this is a standard clause. Like the man on the Clapham omnibus, or the reasonable bystander. I love it.)
I doubt that bon pères de famille deal with narrow roads in racehorse cars by shouting OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD I DON'T KNOW IF THERE'S SPACE OH GOD, PLEASE LET IT BE OK and gripping the steering wheel in their sweaty palms in abject terror as they lurk in a lay by until there is no traffic left at all. Or declare the acceleration "scary" and stay in the slow lane all the way round the ringroad. Or fail to discover how to open the boot. That said, I am at least exceedingly safe since I get palpitations over 110km/h, so in that respect if no other, I am indeed a VERY good father to the racehorse car.
Anyway, I did not break it, the sun was shining, it had some kind of sci-fi camera to show you how to park, and I had coffee on the Place du Grand Sablon where one of the cafés has installed some sort of white leather benches which are delightfully vulgar, so I sat on one. All the men were channelling Bernard Henri Levi (giant hair and shirts open to the point of risking hypothermia) and the women either Carla Bruni or La Cicciolina and everyone stared at the monster racehorse car with naked envy. Given another five years and someone else's brain, I could probably have almost enjoyed it. I did like the GPS which would only direct you to beer and dollars:
Pleasingly Grand Theft Auto.
Also, it had "porte-gobelets escamotables" (removable cup holders) which is (a) a fabulously complex expression, and (b) entirely without use. Also, they looked faintly sinister and medical, like so:
Enough luxury complaints. I did get hit on the head by a bottle of Dr Hauschka bath oil this morning, but that's more of a middle class injury. I am going to investigate the massive protests taking place in Brussels today. So far, I have a report from Schuman that "the protesters are already taking up every terrasse seat in every café for miles". It sounds like my kind of protest.