How I came to miss the Bayeux tapestry and was surprised on the toilet by a French doctor


I am a hypochondriac traveller. I have something in one of my bags for anything that might happen to me on this trip. From an Emergency survival kit and storm shelter, down to first aid kit and a pair of tweezers. I even bought rescue remedy. I have never bought rescue remedy before not having a clue what it actually does. It just sounds good and some of my friends use it. And I figure at least one rescue is an inevitability.

However when I tell you I did not come prepared with an implement designed for the removal of objects irretrievably wedged in orifices you may not be surprised. Before you imagine that my first night in France was more strange than it was let me tell you I woke up on my first full day in France to find one of my ear plugs firmly wedged too far down my ear. I am not the sort of person to react with absolute calm to the residence of something in my body that really shouldn’t be there.

Cursing the morning loudly I tried to extricate it with my panicked fingers…and pushed the plug further in. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried removing something from your own ear whose only gripping point is a thin slice of silicone but I can tell you it’s not at all possible with a pair of tweezers. It was a plug of war and the plug won. All I could hear, very loudly reverberating in my ear, was the twang of silicone. This sucks, I thought to myself, literally and metaphorically.

Now, to continue with this drama I must Tarantino you back in time a moment, to the previous evening. When I arrived at the friendly hypo camp in the dark I interrupted the owner in a family crisis. “I have a problem… with my wife…please take a pitch in front of the sanitary block”. Not as bad as it sounds at all by the way.

Skip forward again to the next morning and picture Allan sheepishly emerging from the flaps of his tent door and walking back to reception with his plugged ear, the one liberated ear plug and a pair of tweezers.

After greetings, I announce this time that “I have a problem” “You have a problem?” “Oui”. Master of French conversation am I. With my show and tell Kit and hand gestures I explain my predicament, hoping at best to be given directions to A and E. First he says, “why do you need plug it is very quiet here”. This is true. I was too embarrassed to explain that I am camper who is sometimes kept awake by the wind.

He says “You want me to av a go”. Well it wasn’t what I’d hoped for on my first day in France but I handed over the tweezers and before I knew it Yannick the Hypo camp owner had his hands in my lobe. Twang. Twang. Twang. Tweezers and silicone. Silicone and tweezers. The great unknown comedy double act.

Whilst we are performing this unusual cross channel mail bonding ritual I remember to ask him how his wife is. “She is in hospital” And then he starts to be very upset and on the brink of tears. “She had a fall and the hospital won’t let me see her” I feel dumbly embarrassed by my over sensitive fear of wind in the face of Yannick’s tears.

And then, the ear plug proving itself twang happy and irremovable, he proceeds to drive me 5 miles to Port en Bessin (pictured) to see a pharmacist, followed by two doctors (the first wouldn’t see me because she had no time!). When he has to return to the campsite he asks the other patients in the waiting room to explain to the doctor what has happened. In return they got my story to take home.

Soon the Dr has his hands in my ear, with an implement I never caught sight of. After a brief struggle, the good Doctor successfully tugged the plug and I left the surgery, stopping only to use the toilet I had spotted next to the waiting room. Two things happened next. Number One, nature brought forth number twos. Number two, I didn’t lock the door properly.

Its amazing how eminent a man can look one minute and down to earth the next. I’m obviously talking about the doctor, who had already undone his belt and was reaching for the flies as he rushed open the toilet door. The looks that passed between us I shall remember for the rest of my life. Shock, repulsion, laughter. All in a moment. And I thought to myself humans really are an odd brilliant lot, wherever you are in the world. Anyhow, that’s how I came to miss the world’s most important historical tapestry but instead got surprised on the toilet by a French doctor. C’est la vie! What could I say about it that hasn’t already been said.

Next time…how the rest of that day planned out, no pun intended.

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