ADVENTURES OF A DRAG QUEEN – by Jeff Kristian
“No Dancing for Fred And Ginger”
Ginger was a person, not a cat. And I'm not really sure why his name
was Ginger, it certainly didn't relate to his appearance. But rather
delightfully, having recently lost five stone of his once considerable
bulk, he now had a wonderful zest for living life to the full, which was
lovely other than for the fact that everyone else had to get involved.
As pleased as I was for him, there were indeed down sides to his
immense weight loss. A tattoo of Robbie Williams on his right bicep
now looked like Sid James, and with the zeal of a newly reformed
non-smoker, he was now insistent that all his friends needed to
dance to the same tune. Insert Fred Astaire joke here. So it was,
he had decided I was to accompany him on a day trip to France.
He'd been several times recently with several people and now
apparently it was my turn. I had been reluctant at first, but now the
trip was imminent, I was actually quite looking forward to it.
'I know some fabulous places to shop, so we need to get lots of
Euros before we go,' he gushed, briefly flashing the Chanel label
on his new coat. It didn't look like a Chanel to me.
While he was in the toilet, I had a closer look at the label. It was
actually from the Channel Tunnel gift shop. What looked from a
distance like the iconic inverted double-c Chanel logo was in fact the
face of two tunnels. I smiled to myself. You had to admire his
I hadn't really considered how much preparation would have to
go into a day trip abroad. The first decision was how to get there.
Other than lying on the beach and the odd paddle, I'm not a big
fan of the sea. Should we float on top at the risk of sinking or falling
in, or should we go underneath, perhaps on the very day that the
tunnel would flood? Either way I would drown, so I opted for the
quicker route by train. Ginger pointed out that with the Eurotunnel
we could do Folkestone, Calais and then zip on to Paris, though this
sounded more than a mere day's shopping to me. Either way,
comfortable walking shoes were in order, and a rummage through
the drinks cabinet to make a list for Duty-Free.
On the way back from picking up some Euros, I popped into the
chemist for some travel sickness pills, where I was a little distracted
by their canisters of oxygen - should I be forced to spend any amount
of time under deep water. I also bought a new travel umbrella and
some sucky-sweets for the journey. Early one very cloudy and windy
Friday morning, we met at St Pancras station to begin our quest.
We had decided to give Folkestone a miss as it probably just had
the same shops a Lewisham anyway, giving us time to do two
locations in fashionable France. The journey wasn't as frightening as
I thought it would be. I had taken a Barbara Taylor Bradford with me
as a distraction to go with the sucky-sweets.
But as we approached the tunnel, Ginger began telling me about how
his neighbour had been thrown out of an upstairs window by his wife,
who then reversed the car over him before emptying a tin of gloss
paint over his clothes, which were in a pile on the front lawn, and
setting light to them.
The moral of the story was that I shouldn't be in such a panic because
there's always someone worse off than myself. But the time flew by
and before I knew it we were out of le tunnel sous la Mange and
had arrived in Calais.
Full of joie de vivre and several gin and tonics, a huge gust of wind
caught Ginger as he stepped from the train and he lost his balance,
unceremoniously landing in a clump on the platform.
An old woman in her equal enthusiasm hadn't noticed and fell
on top of him, bashing him on the head as she fell with her vanity
case. After several minutes trying to untangle her bracelet from the
back of his woolly hat, we realised that he had sprained his ankle.
No dancing today for Fred and Ginger, then! I helped him limp to a
café near the concourse and we sat to drown our sorrows with a
little breakfast. Ginger wasn't as impressed as our
waitress Marie when I ordered my food in French, though I
understood him being a little grumpy. So I didn't bother exasperating
things further by admitting that I'd just ordered the only thing I
know how to say in French. As it turned out, Marie's real name
was Mary and she was from Bolton, so I needn't have bothered.
After a couple of coffees, I hauled him back on the return train and
we came home. Ironically, Claude the taxi driver from St Pancras
was French, which just pissed Ginger off even more.
Though to be fair I have to admit, I was a little perturbed myself
when I didn't get back what I'd paid for the Euros, thanks to a
fluctuating exchange rate. It transpired that Ginger had just sprained
his ankle rather than broken it, which was a bonus.
But some weeks later, he began trying to persuade me to go back,
by which time I'd gone off the idea. If I want to pay that much for a
breakfast in the future, I think I'll go to Tiffanys!
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