THE USUAL SUS­PECTS

Chris Horton has his say

911 Porsche World - - Contents - CHRISHORTON 911&PW’S rov­ing re­porter

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 con­tro­ver­sial Brexit process notwith­stand­ing) by hav­ing traf­fic in the town adopt our rule of the road, and drive on the left. Horton, long in­trigued by the hu­man con­cept of left and right, plans to give it a go if it hap­pens. Which Porsche to take, though? Right-hand­drive 924S, or left­hand-drive 944?

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