Blimey these French police are rough.
When we last spoke I was about to have a nice conversation with a group of armed dockers. The tete-a-tete didn't quite go as planned. I was just uttering my best 'bonjour' when one of the little fellows drop-kicked me off the end of the loading bay and into the icy harbour waters below. As greetings go this was unusual, to say the least, but it had a certain panache.
When the French police turned up they fished me out of the bay rather roughly with a boat hook and then proceeded to stuff me in the back of their van and administer an almighty shoeing. I don't know what it is with the Gendarmerie but they seem to all have intimate knowledge of numerous and successively more brutal martial arts. At one point they had me pinned against the roof with their batons whilst doing the fabled '1-inch punch' to my testicles.
After being held overnight in a cell and given hourly beatings they decided that I was to be released without charge, justice had been done I felt.
Emerging into what I can only assume is downtown Calais, I was bemused to see not the quaint market place populated by baguette wielding flaneurs and country vicars astride bicycles (which I had been reliably informed by the good Doctor was the form for the modern French city). No it appeared that Calais had changed remarkably since the great Nostrum had visited the place in his halcyon childhood in the 1870's. The place was awash with glittering tower blocks, all spangled with neon explosions, glyphs and sigils declaring unknown pleasures in the peculiar French pictographic script which i had previously mentioned.
The swarms of small dark haired Frenchmen and Frenchwomen flowed around your bemused and bruised narrator, and took little notice of my humble self, unusual though it must have been to see a linear decendant of Burke and Hare (the famous Victorian music Hall couple who nightly would perform gruesome murders at the Royalty Theatre for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company) dressed in rags, sporting any number of vivid injuries to person, lurching about in the Financial district. Ignore me they did however as they chattered into their miniscule telephones.
I decided that a hearty breakfast was in order, Croissants, Coffee, Compote and fresh Beure. Delicious. I wandered into the nearest hostelry and sat down at the counter. The cops must have knocked something loose in the night because I was most perturbed to discover that my senses had led me not to a resturant but rather to some kind of pet parlour. The place was littered with cages containing numerous dogs, cats, snakes and other companions from the animal kingdom. The pet shop owner approached and I tried asking for the nearest breakfasting place with little success. I pointed to my mouth and made the international sign for hunger. He then rather rudely disappeared, so I thought I would wait for his return by examining the wide range of pets on sale.
A while later he appeared and he must have understood my plea for he had been kind enough to pop out and buy me a big bowl of soup. What a gent. It was not a Continental breakfast but my growling stomach did not care. As I supped it down and chewed vigorously on the gristly pieces of meat the swam inside it I felt immensley cheered. It was not the best soup I had ever tasted, having a kind of gamey aroma, but it was hot and greasy and the stringy strips of meat filled me up. Only once did it veer away from excellent as I nearly broke my tooth champing down on something hard and metallic, someone had carelessly left what appeared to be a dog chain in the broth.
As I wandered out of the parlour having paid the pet shop owner for his kindness in locating me a bowl of soup I was assailed by a giant L.E.D billboard showing an animation of a Squid wearing a Fedora trying to sell a spacegirl on a rocket powered surfboard some kind of noodle dish or maybe an insurance policy it was hard to tell. I am beginning to wonder whether I am in France after all.