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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones