THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Chris Horton has his say
LEFT, RIGHT, QUICK MARCH…CRASH?
I am, as some of you might remember from previous iterations of this column, intrigued by the uniquely human concept of ‘left’ and ‘right’, which for we vehicle drivers most commonly manifests itself in the rule of the road. And, of course, sometimes disastrous lapses from it.
You will understand my immediate and consuming interest, then, in a Daily Telegraph headline in early July: ‘Welcome to Calais… please drive on the left’. OK, so it was the beginning of the silly season, that time of year when the news seems to become even more absurd and contrived than usual, but this surely warranted a closer look.
It seems that Xavier Betrand, the president of the Calais region of northern France, is keen to promote the town’s post-brexit links with Britain. (The phrase ‘lone voice in the wilderness’ springs to mind. I can’t imagine that the joyless Michel Barnier, who reportedly wants to teach us all a lesson for voting to leave the EU, would be thrilled about it.)
To this end, the enterprising Monsieur Betrand is generously and courageously – and perhaps even a trifle recklessly – proposing that for a weekend next spring, or perhaps even for a week, traffic within a designated area switches from driving on the right-hand side of the road to driving on the left. ‘I have the dream of the British coming here and we let them drive on the left in Calais…it would show they are welcome,’ he reportedly told the newspaper.
Quite how the scheme might work is not, of course, something into which the story delved too deeply. And one suspects that even M Betrand might not have given it overly lengthy consideration. He is, after all, a politician. And when do they ever think things through? Where, for instance – and how – would the normal rule be reapplied? The paper quotes a spokesman as suggesting that it would be like ‘organising a major event such as a carnival’ (yeah, right…), but one wonders what the residents of Calais would make of it – never mind the French press and government once they get wind of it.
Even so, full marks to all if it can be pulled off – and for even daring to think of it, come to that. The sheer novelty value alone would prompt me to cross the Channel and give it a whirl. For me, though, one big question remains. Which would offer the most surreal experience on, say, the town’s poignantly named Boulevard des Alliés: my right-handdrive 924S, or the left-hand-drive 944? Maybe Mrs Horton and I will have to take one each.
Implausibly, the authorities in the northern French port of Calais – landfall for many Britons crossing the English Channel by ferry or train – are suggesting that for a short period next spring they will show their appreciation of us (the...