The Ministry of Transport in Paris confirmed yesterday that anyone driving in France must carry an ‘emergency hamper’, designed to ‘minimise risk of hunger in event of mechanical failure at lunch time, more than 2.4 kilometres from a brasserie’.
The new rule was immediately dismissed as a ruse to collect fines from unsuspecting foreign motorists, particularly after it was revealed traffic cops have undergone training in ‘checking that what they’ve got in the basket looks like the kind of meal Juliet Binoche would throw together for a few friends on a hillside’.
‘If you want to drive in our country you should respect our laws,’ said a spokesman, ‘and the law requires you to carry two fresh baguettes, some perfectly ripe brie, a half carafe of appellation controllee red wine or better, and a gingham picnic blanket with the checks no bigger than 10 cm. Even you Rosbifs should be able to manage that’.
The ministry pointed out that original plans, which required the wicker hamper to double up as an emergency shelter/life raft/undercarriage of a hot air balloon should you need romantically rescuing from a ravine, had already been watered down considerably.
Other European countries are looking at the scheme with interest, with the Swiss ‘fairly certain motorists could benefit in a crisis from a large dog with a brandy barrel around its neck’, and the Greeks pondering the possible roadside uses of ‘an inflatable Orthodox cathedral to seat at least 20 people, or pay a 1000 Euro fine’.
‘Personally I’ve no objection to all this stuff,’ said an English motorist interviewed at Calais. ‘The last time I drove across the continent, by the time I’d got the compulsory Flugelhorn, raffia donkey, Polish plumber called Yacob and fully operational spy satellite in the car there was no room for the wife and kids. Best holiday I ever had. I bloody love Europe.’