The colourful banners at the Eurotunnel terminal at Calais spell out the words Treat Shop Relax Refresh Eat. But it would be more truthful if they said Queue Panic Scream Scavenge Fight to the Death.
For reasons best known to the French authorities, there is only one restaurant inside the Eurotunnel building at Calais and that is a small Burger King.
Now, consider that you have hundreds of hungry travellers arriving in this place, and all of them have either grown used to excellent French food during a holiday, or they are habitually accustomed to it as standard because they are French.
Now add to that the fact that, due to heightened security, there are three-hour delays to all departures. Now add to that the fact that there is no air-conditioning, for unexplained reasons. Perhaps they decided to shut off both the food and the cool air supply because it was a waste of money making us comfortable or happy now we were leaving. Who knows?
All that is certain is that the Eurotunnel Burger King, with its two frazzled staff members and queues snaking backwards for miles, has become a refugee reception centre.
‘Have we taken a wrong turn? Is this the Jungle?’ I asked the builder boyfriend, as we stood open-mouthed in the doorway. But in truth, this was wishful thinking. The migrant reception centre would have offered us better service. The aid agencies would have taken pity on us and fed us. In the departure lounge of the Eurotunnel terminal there was no such compassion — only sweaty, yelling, marauding tourists.
The only ray of hope was a small sandwich counter next to Burger King which was doling out emergency pizzas. This, while laudable, produced mass hysteria. Desperate, starving, sunburned people were screaming at the counter and behind the counter red-faced women were screaming back — screaming the names of pizzas but also obscenities.