Town mouse takes a trip to France

As I hurried onto the platform of Pimlico Tube station, a crackly voice announced a signal failure at Victoria. Back I pounded, up the escalator. Under normal conditions, the Victoria Line takes 10 minutes to get to St Pancras and that is what I had allowed for reaching the Eurostar; snatching a taxi from beneath the noses of other people waiting for one required personality. I was beginning to get flustered as I panted through the St Pancras concourse.

The world only righted itself as we rushed through the French countryside, happy in the June sunshine. It required two further trains to take me to Normandy, which looked as pretty as Hampshire, but rather less crowded. Even the more local of the trains had plush-upholstered seats, of a breadth and comfort that would have pleased Edward VII. Oh, la belle France.

Now, however, I’m making my way back to Paris in a minibus; the trains are on strike. There would have been a time when modest reversals of fortune would have seemed an adventure. Now, the prospect of possibly having to spend an unscheduled night in Paris fills me with horror. London may be broken in parts, but, despite all the stresses, it just about works. But then it would do. It’s largely run by Poles.