Monday, August 27, 2007

Part Four: A Detour in Our Journey in Honour of Pete

Couldn't resist stopping off here, to pay our respects to His Eminence.

Turns out he not only named the town after himself, but planned its layout, designed the buildings, and probably even built it all with his own two hands.

The town square of Richelieu. The perfect spot for a nice game of Gloire, I'd've thought. Unfortunately we didn't have room in our kit bags for any wargaming stuff. You'd think the back-room-boys at Rattrap would have come up with a Pocket or Travel edition of Gloire by now. The Scrabble mob seem to have done all right with the idea.

The corner tobacconist's that the Cardinal used to run when he wasn't busy joining the Thirty Years War on the wrong side (didn't he look at the team sheets? He should've been playing for the Catholics) or trying to have D'Artagnan killed.

I think that's the church. It looks like a church, albeit a Mexican one. I rather liked Richelieu, a delightful little place. We had cider and ice cream there. But Sickers declared it to be a dump.

Mind you, his definition of a dump is any settlement above the size of village that doesn't have a Games Workshop.

A bit of random chateaury, spotted as we made our way to the next rendevous. As the heat on us was too great, we were advised to lay low for a while. We needed a safe house until Hogan got bored and went back to wrestling.

So we headed here, to sleepy Descartes, home of the philosopher Descartes, unsurprisingly. Unlike Cardinal so-called Richelieu, he didn't design and build the town named after him, he was just born here. Which seems like an amazing coincidence until you find out it wasn't always called that. It used to be called something else, but they renamed it after him. I don't know what it used to be called. You'll have to look it up on Wikipedia or something.

The René Descartes museum of philosophy and such. Do you think we went in? Descartes (known to his friends as Des) was a contemporary of Richlieu's. What was it he said again?

"Je pense, donc je suis"

Sickly, in his eagerness to rise to the status of hobo, has wilfully mistranslated this, and adopted it as a way of life:

"I stink, therefore I am."

Here he is, enacting the more traditional, and clichéd,

"I drink, therefore I am."

So we settled into the quiet rustic idyll for a bit. Here I am doing just that, and looking a bit rough with it, too. Too much of the wine of Anjou, I fancy.

Except that after about five minutes Sickers was bored. The house we had rented had a large collection of VHS tapes of Hollywood movies in it, but no VHS machine to play them on. Instead it had a brand new DVD player, and no DVDs to play on it. Sickly didn't find this joke at all amusing.

After an hour of trying to cram a VHS tape of "Air Force One" into a DVD slot I relented and went and bought him some films on DVD from the local supermarket.

Here he is, holding every Rocky film ever made in his tiny hands. Who'd've thought it, eh? Six motion pictures in two little hands. What a marvelous modern age we live in.

Normally he's a seething ball of anti-American sentiment, ready with Old Glory and a can of lighter fuel for the first sign of a CNN film crew. This is partly because it is fashionable to be so, but also due to his resentment of US foreign policy towards his homeland, the former Soviet republic of Kaffiristan.

Somewhat paradoxically, while holding these views he is simultaneously a great lover of American popular culture. His favourite films are the "Rocky" series, his favourite TV show is "The A-Team", and his favourite actor is Mr. T.

So of course, we had to watch "Rocky III."

Seeing as we were in France, we set the options to French audio with French subtitles, for the fully Gallic experience of the picture. Doesn't Apollo have a funny voice when he talks in French?

Hooray, it's Mr. T!

Just in case you haven't seen him in his latest role (they might not have it in your country), here's the Mr. T Snickers advert:

Click on it, Fool!

"De l'autre côté du monde."
This one was for me. Much as I like the films, I can only take so much Rocky. Ooh, Edition Spéciale, that sounds snazzy.

Later that day we were accosted in the town square by the Cardinal's Guards, led by Hulk Hogan himself. We managed to see them off, but not without an injury to Plynke's foot. Here I am after the battle soaking it in warm brine, and washing away the copious amounts of blood.

(I just included this picture because I thought a picture of a man with his foot in a wok was funny. There wasn't an ordinary, Protestant, civilised, plastic bowl in the whole house, so I was forced to use a wok.)

A bit more random chateauage, that we spotted during our rural idyll phase.

And a bit more.

This place was closed, except to scholars of prehistory, which ain't us. That seems odd, as I didn't realise that cavemen built castles. I'll bet they've got some horrible Cthulhu Mythos relic in there that they're going to unleash on an unsuspecting world any minute. Oh well, that ain't my department, so what do I care? I think MI6 sort out that kind of stuff.

Thanks to my gammy foot I couldn't wear both my Adidas Sambas as the pain was too great, and so took to wearing a sandal on the end of the wonky right peg. This led to an hilarious misunderstanding in which I ended up having to fetch a sparkly sheepskin coat from halfway to China, fight some stop-motion animated skeletons on a clifftop, and then overthrow the wicked tyrant king of Iolcus. But hey, that's a story for another day.

You can't move for these damn Chateau things in the Loire, you know.

As we were in a bit of a lull, Sickers decided to try the new Shrink-Ray that Q-Branch had given him to field-test. It's cunningly disguised as a Tamagotchi. Unfortunately development has taken so long that Tamagotchis are no longer in style. Hopefully they will be back in style again by the time they are issued to field agents on a regular basis.

First he tried it out on an ordinary supermarket trolley.

Then a park bench.

Then he set it to 'Reverse' and shot a plastic spoon with it. Excellent. It works perfectly. Unfortunately it had caused too much attention. It was time to flee again. Besides, we had had word from our contact. He was ready to give up his secret information...

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