The Great Rat-wagon contest

Long-gone days of school summer holidays involved trucking young daughters to camp-sites in the south of France. It was necessary to invent diversions, competitions and games to keep them occupied in the longueurs of the driving.


This was aeons before Jeremy Clarkson and co. started picking on them.

What was required was to spot a caravan, cry “Piggle!” A more sophisticated version required the counting of the number of vehicles trapped behind the obstruction: longest queue wins that day’s round.

This was the “I am the snail. You are the slime” challenge.

Naming bridges

Each motorway bridge deserves a name.

Spot a bridge. Give it an appropriate title. Marks awarded, as in ice-dancing, diving and similar non-sports, for style and interpretation.

Unknown-1Mister/Monsieur/Mein Herr Blob

This, in more egalitarian and sympathetic days, would be considered offensive and discriminatory.

Spot an obese, over-extended belly. Claim him as the parochial, provincial, regional or national champion.

And the best game of the lot …


In those days French and Belgian roads featured large numbers of those strange corrugated-sided vans. Many were Peugeots, but the prime specimens were — without question — aged Citroen H vans.

Since the Type H was produced over three-and-a-half decades (1947-1981) and there were going on half-a-million of them, some still in daily use, some reduced to hen-huts, there was a wealth of material to abuse and mock.

A rat-wagon is identifiable by:

  • its lack of speed (though alternative, imaginative, non-mobile uses were regarded as a bonus);
  • its obstructiveness; and — above all —
  • by advanced decay and rust.

The ultimate all-time winner was spotted being used as a road-side fish-stall in Versailles: it clearly hadn’t shifted in years, and probably never again could, without dissolving into a heap of iron oxide.

So, this morning the Pert Young Piece recalls the fun, with a photo from her iPhone, taken in Park Road, Hornsey:


Her caption is:

Needs more rust


Leave a comment

Filed under BBC, leisure travel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s