Joker's Bottle of Frogs

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The aftermath

Thanks for your comments & support on the previous post, sorry I can't reply direct just yet, still in France at the moment.

I'm alright, an hour after I went back to bed this morning my heart rate was still up at 110bpm, slept for about three hours though.
Now the biggest hassle is getting it all sorted out. Just got back from "l'hotel du police" where a brief report was made. No mention of the lack of interest from the Gendarmerie last night in the report though. I suppose I'll have to fire off a few Emails again, get the press involved.
Feller there was most impressed with the image quality of the pictures I'd brought in on a USB stick. (little does he know the amount of photo equipment stashed away in this cab)

The Dutch transport organisation TLN called me a couple of times, they're draughting a report to the Dutch consulate in Calais and want to know all the details. Apparently this sort of thing happens all too often in the Calais area (don't I know it) but they rarely get a full complaint or report from the drivers, (and why doesn't that surprise me?) if they can, the drivers just tend to write it off to experience and drive on. Consequently the local authorities are saying "problem? quelque problem?".

I'm at the Volvo "action service" garage now to get the windscreen replaced.
They've gone on a 90 minute lunch break. There's "action service" for ya!

I'd like to say a big "merci" to Mr. Cédric Facompre from Total who was very sympathetic and helpful this morning. He's been my guide, chauffeur and translator. Top bloke. If it wasn't for the couple of thousand lawless lunatics camping out in the immediate area I'd go there again.
26th Mar 2009, 11:48   comments (19)

In my hour of need (?) your on your own

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Is it any wonder the (French) police have such a terrible reputation?
I've just been attacked by seven armed men and the police here are simply not interested.

I crossed from Dover to Calais tonight and, because I'd run out of driving hours, I was forced (against my better judgement) to park up for nine hours as soon as I'd disembarked.

An hour after I'd gone to bed I felt a disturbance in the trailer. I looked out and saw three masked men trying to enter the trailer through the side doors (I'd locked the back doors with the only padlock I have with me) I opened the cab door and yelled at them to get the hell off there. They turned towards me and were immediately joined by four others, also masked and carrying iron bars. I shut and locked the doors while they all stood around my cab jeering and threatening. Then one of them smashed the driver's side mirror with his iron bar and I hit the alarm button, it's an emergency switch in the cab that sets off a very loud siren and all the external lights start flashing, I was worried they would try to get in at me by smashing one of the side windows.

Bear in mind that it's after one in the morning and I'm surrounded by a couple of hundred other trucks and their (sleeping?) drivers. Not one of the bastards so much as looked out at me as a rock the size of a football was smashed into my windscreen. Twice.

I called 112 and they didn't speak any English. I managed to make them understand that I was being attacked and needed immediate assistance and they put me on hold, with a little music. Then local Calais police were on the line, but spoke no English and put me on hold. Another voice also spoke no English and put me on hold again. The last one spoke almost no English, and despite my best efforts to explain that I needed "HELP! Help! HELP!" at the truckstop "Total" in Calais and that seven armed men were smashing up my truck as we speak, he asked me "eef my kar wuz brocken down-uh".

I hung up and called 112 again, asked for Calais police and got someone who (half) understood what was up. He said I should go outside and wait in the petrol station until someone arrived.
Yeah right.
The seven masked lunatics have moved on down the line by this time and are climbing onto a tanker lorry, trying to get in through the top hatches, cool as you like, and there's another group of four, 20 meters up the other way.

I sat for half an hour waiting for "le plod" to arrive.
No show.
Just as I'd given up on them and decided they probably hadn't understood me I heard sirens in the distance. Three police cars turned up and a bunch of cops with big sticks wandered off between the trucks. One of them was in the petrol station drinking coffee and I went in to speak with him.
He spoke no English (or refused to try).
I went out to the others, asking them if any of them spoke any English, "non" they said, as they pushed passed me into the warm shop and ordered coffee. I followed them in and asked the petrol station attendant if he could help me translate (I'd heard him speaking English earlier) then one of France's finest had me up against the counter with his riot-stick in my face telling me (in quite good English) that "you are in France now, we speak French 'ere".
I told them they were all a bunch of useless wankers, removed the bump-stick from my face and left (fully expecting to be bundled into one of the police cars outside).

At least the asylum seekers have left the area, for now.

I need to try and get some sleep now, back at work in five hours.
26th Mar 2009, 02:04   comments (23)

My left foot

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Why? Dunno, not much else around.

Stuck on the Vlaardingen - Felixstowe boat tonight and it's really rough out there (when we'd finished eating the guy lashed the chairs to the table for the night)
23rd Mar 2009, 21:06   comments (8)

All set

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Right Engerlund. Listen up.
I've done my bit. Left Avonmouth at one o'clock this morning, drove 700km, spent 15mins at home getting a shower and changed, out the door again, train into Arnhem, installed now in Mick O'connel's ready for England - Scotland.
Now it's your turn to go to work.
I'm the only Englishman in here, white shirt on, surrounded by green, blue and wannabe wallabies & all blacks.
Need a win to make it to the door.
C'mon
21st Mar 2009, 15:06   comments (5)

We really do shift everything, Wallrusses excepted (FF)

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Somebody in Holland bought this 1984 Rolls Royce off Ebay for three and a half grand off a bloke in Glasgow.
Good luck!
It's over 25 years old, so considered an "oldtimer" in NL and therefore exempt road tax, which is just as well, as Dutch road tax is based on vehicle weight and emissions, both of which this beast has plenty of (nearly three tons, and worse fuel consumption than my (11 liter) truck).
Can you imagine the cost of a full service? A set of new tires? A replacement exhaust system?
And it's rusting, leaking oil and smells like an old wet dog inside.
19th Mar 2009, 10:06   comments (5)

Deventer

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Had a little walk around Deventer last night. Nice enough kind of place.
Was supposed to load 25 pallets of advertising folders (coming to a letterbox near you, soon) at six o'clock this morning. They are, of course, not ready yet. They will, of course, still be expected to be delivered on time.
19th Mar 2009, 06:08   comments (4)

Leckie-spaghetti

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Don't let Geert see this, he'd have a fit!
The MC35's feed was shutting off when the ignition turned off and as we'd disabled the stand-by function it would eventually close down due to battery failure. This would initiate a re-boot every morning and complete loss of current data.
(is anyone still awake so far?)
it's now been hard-routed to the wiring loom and bolted to the dashboard, instead of a floppy sucker thing on the windscreen.
And it works, which is nice.
18th Mar 2009, 18:35   comments (2)

Vasileios Nikolakopoulos will not be prosecuted!

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I've just heard on the news that the Greek truck driver (see earlier blog) will not be prosecuted, due to "lack of evidence" (the CPS works in mysterious ways)
great news!
:-)
17th Mar 2009, 11:04   comments (4)