Drawms and Froaches come away, come away, come away.

En route to London, The Slog encounters bad English, appalling Englishmen, English abnr syndrome, and the ultimate English Spoonerism

Do you ever dream of riding in a horse-drawm carriage? If so, your life’s ambition is only a short flight away in Bergerac, where horse-drawm carriages are all the rage…as the ad in the Bergerac Airport lounge promises. I warn you to steer clear of those old-hat horse-drawn carriages, and suggest you warm instead to the idea of the altogether better horse-drawm experience. ‘Sod the norm, it’s nicer by drawm’; ‘Bergerac, where the carriage rides are truly drawmatic.’ No wonder Bergerac is such a draw.

Bergerac airport is the world capital of howler English spelling and bizarre, accented announcements. Shortly after the terrorist attack on London in 2005, for example, a lady announced over the Bergerac pa system that all passengers ignoring the baggage announcements would be taken away and destroyed in a controlled explosion. I’m all for taking a tough line in such matters, but that struck me as extreme under the circumstances.

It is also – and this is a Dordogne tradition going back forty years at least – the preferred airport of the pugnacious middle class English family returning home following a summer break.

The middle class well tailored casual en famille groupe anglais is always visible there, and for some reason, more often than not there will be one pot-bellied husband, three strapping boy,s and one mousey, downtrodden ma-ma. The four men all wear striped polo shirts, bright yellow shorts, all-leather deck shoes, and an air of insouciant entitlement.

They jut, these people. Very few have the chin for it, so they use the nose for the jutting. They jut noses at ill-mannered douaniers, casual waitresses, machines that contain biscuits and candy bars, announcements of late aeroplane arrival, and beautifully made hand luggage that won’t fit in the overhead lockers.

As we boarded our flight, the Dad I’d encountered started with something I recognised as a Brown’s valise, and his jut became ever more pronounced as he pushed it at the plastic orifice. He pushed at it very hard indeed, while extending his jut menacingly until he was almost jutting the valise into the locker with his nose.

“Harrumph,” he said, before thrusting the bag at his cowering wife, and adding a growled “Under the seat”. Wifey was obviously used to this odd verbal morse code, in that she complied immediately (with the bag, not herself). I imagined their home life consisting of staccato exchanges like “Dinner, best room”, “Shirt, green, where?” and even “Time for fourth child, dick ready, horizontal, bed”.

He held the whole complement of passengers up while his brood jerked and jutted at myriad obstacles requiring considered thought in order to make them function. Then he settled down to read an inhouse magazine I recognised as that of a large Whitehall Ministry. At which point, the picture was complete.

The Flybe plane was indeed late. Flybe used to call their inhouse magazine ‘Unplugged’, which always struck me as disconcerting – suggesting as it did that one had boarded a glider. Now it’s called ‘Uncovered’, which makes even less sense unless you hope to have a sunroof while in flight. They should call it Flybe Corporate Publishing Bollocks. I’d read an inflight mag called Flybe Corporate Publishing Bollocks.

“Sorry about our late departure today,” the captain drawled, “but I’m afraid we inherited it.”

I laughed out loud and caused several people (including Sir Humphrey Jutnose) to swivel round. I found such an outstanding example of all blame/no responsibility syndrome absolutely hilarious, but I was clearly on a lone, personal wavelength re that one. It set my mind running in several directions: “The sign of a true English aristo flying ace is that he even inherits his delays” and so forth.

The Flybe safety announcement, by the way, has been been amended since I last flew with them, such that the tone of the addendum has upped the aggression content (probably in a fruitless attempt to get people to watch or, at least, listen) as follows:

“In the event of an emergency disembarkation, you MUST leave all your valuables behind”.

I know this is me and my odd mind, but I had visions of sufferers flying to an autistics’ convention having to ditch in the sea, and delaying the rescue procedure by straining to remove diamond solitaire rings, emptying wallets, or pulling frantically at their gold teeth. The visions got sillier until I eventually drifted off into sleep.

But it continued to be one of those surreal days. I won’t go into the train ticket machine experience after landing, because we’ve been there before; so I will merely give you, verbatim, the second announcement the driver made on the way to London from Southampton:

“As there is a short platform at Shawford, could I ask all customers alighting there to make their way to the five cunt froaches”.

I would normally censor such words at The Slog, but I think an asterisk in this case would do the hilarity of the occasion scant justice.  So I decided to call a froach a froach. Every passenger looked at every other passenger and then spluttered. All except a lady of great age across the way from me.

“Well, rairly,” she said quietly.

30 thoughts on “Drawms and Froaches come away, come away, come away.

  1. Ah, Bergerac. Where they whisk you into the departure lounge as quickly as possible and way before time. Why? I asked the nice lady on the desk. ‘Because we’re fed up with people checking in, going to the bar, getting pissed, not watching the time and then getting abusive with everyone’ (I paraphrase) she said. Brits abroad eh?
    But I’m sure that it’s all worth every euro of the €450,000 Bergerac pay Ryanair every year.

  2. Had a bit of a Day, one way and another, and was quietly controlling the breathing and ignoring the news .. the Memsahib likes these rare moments of quiet .. then I read your little communique and was reduced to helpless laughter. Then I read about Lady Bracknell at the end and started again .. the dog took this as a challenge and joined in and the cat took fright and skittered out of the sitting room upsetting a vase of flowers on the way.

    The Memsahib sighed heavily, turned on the TV and poured me a large restorative.

    Thank you John :-)

  3. O/T but, Tomorrow the German Constitutional court rules on the ratification of the ESM. For my mind there will be a lot of huffing and puffing and paper shuffling then, they will pass the legislation, why? Because if they don’t it’s the end of the Euro, and, as I have said before I beleive there are greater plans being enacted than we know about. Rajoy and Monti came away from the last summit with a ‘victory’, they were sucker punched, I think possibly Draghi has an inkling that something bigger is going on behind the backs of others but, has no evidence of such. Spains borrowing cost is still rising indicating that the ECB has not yet stepped in, which judging by previous examples it would have done by now. Are we on the cusp of a major event?

  4. After a long and tiresome working day, i did enjoy that one – thanks JW.
    Also reminded me of all the trouble i ‘m being put through, every time i have to contact EMEA Support Depts, located in England. After a while, i gave up trying to understand the various English accents over the phone.
    When in urgent situation, i send an email describing the tech support case, then call over the phone saying “i just sent an urgent service request – please respond ASAP in written form :-)

  5. I flew to Bergerac and back (Southampton) a couple of years ago. Was amazed that arrivals were met by one gendarme with a dog. He (not the dog) checked passports in what looked like a barn.

    On the return we too were encouraged to go straight to the gate so was not aware of machines that contain biscuits and candy bars, as the only refreshments came from a machine that sold bottled water.

    Is the flight always late? Flybe blamed the late departure of the previous (Ryanair) flight.

    A far better experience however than any flight involving Heathrow or Gatwick.

  6. Once, I had a connecting flight where we all had to disembark to a waiting lounge at Bangkok airport. Whilst waiting for the next flight, I started to pay attention to the TV playing in the corner of the lounge, the programme was about how a 747 blew up on the runway, in the USA, and what caused it, (something along the lines of,daytime heat,fumes and a spark).
    What was I just about to get on-board, yes, a 747!

  7. OK so it wouldn’t accept my last comment so I leave you tonight with this.
    A young blonde girl in her late teens, wanting to earn some extra money
    for the summer, decided to hire herself out as a “handy woman” and started
    canvassing a nearby well-to-do neighborhood.

    She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he
    had any odd jobs for her to do.
    “Well, I guess I could use somebody to paint the porch” he said. “How
    much will you charge me?”

    Delighted, the girl quickly responded, “How about $50?”

    The man agreed and told her that the paint and brushes and everything
    she would need were in the garage.

    The man’s wife, hearing the conversation, said to
    her husband, “Does she realize that our porch goes ALL the way around
    the house?”
    “That’s a bit cynical, isn’t it?” he responded.
    The wife replied, “You’re right. I guess I’m starting to believe
    All those dumb blonde jokes.”

    A few hours later the blonde came to the door to collect her money.
    “You’re finished already??” the
    startled husband asked.
    “Yes,” the blonde replied, “and I even had paint left over so I gave
    it two coats.”

    Impressed, the man reached into his pocket for the $50 and handed it
    to her along with a $10 tip.

    “Thank you,” the blonde said,
    “And, by the way, it’s not a Porch,
    it’s a Lexus.”

    Boom Boom!

  8. Loving the funt croaches, and also the as ever, sharp observation of the JW eye and brain. Jutting is something I now realise I see on a regular basis, but had failed to identify as such!!

  9. Spoonerism – the only -ism I wholeheartedly support. (Of course there will be mistakes…). I enjoy motoring through France from time to time in my ancient but trusty Citroen (inventing spoonerisms as I go, natch), the D roads at 130kph not being fully engaging of the frontal lobes. Hence I am about to fabricate a small yellow diamond-shaped card to hang in the rear window for the edification of those I overtake, which will announce “Boild on Chard”. Up yours too, madam.

  10. Spoonerism is an art much like shitting. Done correctly it requires avoiding the extremes of merely obstreperous straining on one hand, and an incontinent mess on the other. If you take my meanings.

  11. Wasn’t it Bergerac A/P where on searching a lady passenger’s case they found an old WW2 grenade – intended as a holiday souvenir for, (not to eliminate), her husband ?

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