Rory Sutherland Rory Sutherland

The Wiki Man | 28 June 2008

Rory Sutherland's fortnightly column on technology and the web

Once again it’s the time of year when Spectator readers start loading up their cars with Andrex, Gentleman’s Relish and Marmite in anticipation of the annual drive to France.

Do I have any advice to give? Unsurprisingly I do.

For the first hour across the Channel, I quite like to listen to Nostalgie FM. This is a French Oldies station unintentionally rendered hilarious by some French law (probably by J. Toubon) which requires a proportion of songs on French radio to be sung in French. Hence for the first 50 miles of the A10 you can amuse yourself with classics such as:

Son petit itsy bitsy teenie weenie tout petit petit bikini
Qu’elle mettait pour la première fois
Un itsy bitsy teenie weenie tout petit petit bikini
Un bikini rouge et jaune à petit pois
Un, deux, trois… voilà ce qui arriva….

After an hour, though, this may begin to lose its appeal, and you start to miss Radio 4. So it’s a good idea to have one of those little £20 widgets (the ones by Kensington work well) which let your iPod broadcast to your car radio on a spare FM frequency, having topped up your iPod with a few podcasts or audiobooks first. (My current favourite podcasts are the Oxford Biographies series recorded by the DNB. These 12-minute spoken biographies are a delight, with subjects seemingly picked at random. This leads to bizarre juxtapositions in the style of the Biography Channel: ‘Up soon it’s a profile of the Duchess of Kent, but first a real treat in store with the life of Ted Bundy.’)

What else? I don’t know if you’ve ever used those premium text services where for around £1 you can text any question to a premium number (66000 in the case of Texperts) and receive an answer in a few minutes.

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