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.