I usually rant to anyone that will listen about unruly French schoolchildren on walking tours in places like Stratford. They don’t want to be there and – money aside – I don’t want to be working with them.
Let me therefore tell you about a group of 14 year olds I encountered there today…….
They were due not only to have a walking tour of the town but also had to be walked from Anne Hathaway’s Cottage at Shottery to the town centre and then have a walking tour (for complex logistical reasons I won’t bore you with here).
Well, they arrived two hours late because they’d encountered severe traffic on the motorway. They had a picnic (sorry pique nique) lunch and then were remarkably attentive for their tour of the Cottage. You’re 14, you’re abroad for the first time, do you really want some eccentric Englishman telling you about wattle and daub? (Actually, I liven it up with pre-marital sex and cow shit but that’s another story.)
Then we walked into town and did the tour – over two hours in total – and they remained happy and polite and interested all the time. Yes, they looked a bit worn out but it was a long day.
Only towards the end did I discover that they’d come straight here from, er, La Rochelle, leaving at 6.00pm the night before, travelling across France overnight, leaving Calais at 6.00am and then throwing themselves onto the mercy of the M25. No loo stop (coach driver’s hours rules) and straight into me doing my Bard of Avon routine.
These kids deserved the legion d’honneur. I record my thanks to them here in Cyberspace!