From rat to ratatouille

Occupying your local brats during long car drives is an art-form in itself.

When we were doing the summer vacation run to the south of France we invented a whole series of games. We piggled caravans (pointed finger and derisive “piggle!” — a useful term of mild abuse ever after. We politically-incorrectly nominated a “Mr Blob” in each town on an avoirdupois and circumferential basis. We evaluated all French dogs into one of three classes: rat, rug and demi-cheval. This was doubtless inspired by a numerical reduction of Macbeth‘s:

As hounds, and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves, are ‘clept
All by the name of dogs: the valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him closed.

The other game which has persisted with the Pert Young Piece is the one with rat-wagons. Here one had to spot those decaying corrugated vans which stagger their way along Routes Nationales at minimal speed, with a trail of frustrated drivers seeking any opportunity to overtake. Or are seen in roadside vantage points, selling vegetables, housing chickens, proving piggeries … or just rotting. The prime specimens inevitably were  Citroën H vans. Bonus points for 90%+ oxidation and evidently broken suspension.

Rat wagon


Sadly those rust-heaps are no more.

PYP looks in vain. They have all been gentrified:



The punch-line here was from a BBC Radio Three French week. Between the main events, an intermission discussion was on French engineering.

A gloomy French voice inserted: “Ow can any county be taken seriously when it produced the Citroën Ami 6?”


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