Sunday, 1 May 2016

If you think you can, or if you think you can't.....'re right. I've no idea who came up with that bit of sagacity originally - I think I heard it first back in the mists of time on one of those irritating "developmental" courses you go on at work - but it does have the merit of having a grain of truth to it.

Until the last couple of weeks for example I had no idea I could do woodwork on the hard shoulder of a motorway. This wasn't by choice, should that need pointing out. 

I'd bobbed down to Brico Depot to pick up some timber (among other things), to replace some that's rotting round the borders in the veg plot. It only came in lengths of 4 metres. No worries, thought I, I'll tie it on the wooden frame of my trailer, which is 2 meters long, and the other 2 meters can extend above the back of my car. Up to 30 mph, this worked just fine. At 60mph however, my planks were generating so much lift I thought I was going to have to call French Air Traffic Control (it was one of the rare days they weren't on strike), to let them know that a BMW estate and trailer would shortly be ascending to 15,000 feet.

It was at this point that I realised I'd been a plank about my planks, aided considerably by some helpful hand gestures and pulled faces from fellow motorway travellers. So about 100 meters before a viaduct known for its crosswinds where things could have become even more, ahem, interesting, I pulled in to the side of the road to improve the safety of my load, as it were.

I had, in a miraculous act of foresight, popped a saw in the car before I left, which meant that the obvious solution was to saw the damn planks down to a more reasonable size. Eight of them, in fact. I - rather coolly I thought - remembered to don my hi-viz jacket so as not to unnecessarily attract the attention of the Gendarmarie, as I got to work measuring and sawing for 15 minutes. Though to be fair a man in a British-registered car doing woodwork on the hard shoulder may have caused them to glance twice, had it not been a day when they were otherwise occupied policing a strike by some other part of the French civil service. (The farmers are done for this year. They've had their smoky, smelly motorway protests during the winter so they can focus now on the things they need to do to get the juicy CAP payments rolling it).

So there we are. It all turned out OK in the end. If you'd have asked me on Thursday morning whether it was feasible to untie eight planks from a trailer that were secured by a series of ridiculous homemade knots, measure and cut them perfectly to size while traffic passed a couple of metres away at 60 mph, and not feel particularly flustered, I'd have said you were joking. But I thought I could, etc.....

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