Drive for half an hour through the wildest uplands of Finistere to the pretty little bourg of Bolazec, regular half-way meeting place with a good friend and fellow-writer. We lunch in the little bar/restaurant as usual: 5 courses for 10 euros (about £6.50?) - rice, fish and egg salad, followed by smoked ham in spicy mushroom sauce, followed by a platter of chips and roasted chicken pieces, followed by cheese of many kinds, followed by tarte aux pommes. All this with unlimited wine, water, bread and coffee with chocolates included. When we come out much later after a very happy time and interesting talk, my car has ceased to function. Various handsome passing Frenchmen having failed to make any impact on the problem, I am forced to call on the local garage owner, who turns out to be the nicest of the lot, but sadly cannot fix the car at once. So a good day turns into a bad one as I loathe the restriction of being carless and dependent on others. Get a lift home, very, very grumpy and much fatter than when I started.
I broke down in a forest in the middle of Poland once. Half a dozen paralytically drunk Poles swayed out of a cabin and surrounded the car, insisting on opening the bonnet and fiddling about with the engine. Arguments then broke out about what was wrong and a few punches were thrown, but they got the thing going and then lumbered back among the vodka bottles triumphantly. In fact, from my extensive travels round that extraordinary country, I would have to say that drunken Poles are surprisingly good at pretty much anything.