Travel: On Wednesday the sun disappeared for a bit, allegedly snuffed out by an eclipse - or was it the work of the tourist industry?

I wasn't totally sure if eclipses were real, or if they were media events dreamt up by tourist boards. Which was, of course, why I went to Normandy last Wednesday and climbed up on to a cliff overlooking the ocean. I wanted to expose this scam for what it was.

But the funny thing was that I was already having premonitions of a creeping darkness. Was it my imagination, or was the sky already shot through with a strange light? Weren't the blue patches unusually luminous, given the poor light quality? And the clouds overhead - motionless - why were they so black? It was as though they were the clouds at the end of the world.

It goes to show how sophisticated the media is these days. According to the advance publicity campaign, this comically microscopic event had been programmed to happen a million (or a billion?) years in advance. A highly localised two-minute shut-out in the sun's light on a certain planet at a certain time on a certain date. The scientists who were able to predict this alleged conjunction a century or two in advance must have been awesomely clever people indeed.

But not half as clever, I began to fear, as the universe itself. A horrid feeling had stolen over me that nothing on earth in a million years was going to stop this black shadow in its tracks. I had clambered up onto my cliff-top only to find it already encamped with hundreds of people. French, Irish, German, Malaysian, Belgian, Dutch, American... all apparently convinced of what the media had been telling them: that a vast black shadow was about to come from across the ocean, swallowing up everything in its path.

The light was changing as inexorably as the second hand on my watch. It was better than a train time-table. Much better, in fact, than a train time-table. At the same time I was perishing with cold. Perhaps it was just an improbably cold day for August: a sign of the coming autumn. But it also felt like the cold that you would feel if the sun was dying - the cold you would feel if, alongside half the population of Europe and Asia, you had spread yourselves out along a narrow line from the west of Britain to the Bay of Bengal to witness the last event of your lives. Had the tourist boards of all the world united to create this special effect?

The descent into darkness began to gather speed, like a ball rolling down a hill towards an infinite precipice. It was true then. All the talk had been true. The moon had no other trick up its sleeve. There was to be no last-minute deviation. Only now did I begin to see that the French tourist board had bitten off far more than it could chew. Having arranged for the world's tourists to descend on this part of Normandy, it was as though they had forgotten one important thing: that the bloody sun was about to go out.

Well OK, it came back a couple of minutes later. It was fine. But it had me scared. And it confirms what I have always believed. That the tourism industry needs to be controlled before it does something really dangerous.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence