Here's the good news; I've just been on a trip abroad with my wife and daughter. Here's the bad news: we went to Paris. Here's the really terrible news: we went to Euro Disney or Disneyland Paris or Hell in the Pacific or whatever they've changed the name to this week.
I have a curious relationship with the French. I happen to be bilingual and spent a lot of time in France when I was growing up. I even lived in Paris for a couple of years after university. I secretly quite like them but it's such fun to hate the bastards as well. The one thing I'm not confused about is that no Frenchman should be made to work in somewhere like Disneyland. The American "have a nice day" culture comes fairly naturally to most Americans, and it helps when you are in a sunny place like California or Florida. The idea of plonking some enormous fun factory just outside Paris and staffing it with French people who are under orders to smile at everyone was a turkey from the very beginning. You can see the strain in their eyes as they try to rein in their natural instincts to insult Americans and scowl while smoking a foul-smelling, untipped cigarette.
To quote Spinal Tap, "If I hadn't been so sedated I might have been more upset." Not exactly sedated, just pharmaceutically assisted.
Aware of the nightmare ahead of me I met up with an old Parisian friend, "Baba Cool", who works in the same bureau de change that he did 15 years ago when I was living in the city. "Baba" handed me some acid and told me that Disney was the best place to take it.
I thought it best not to mention it to the family and I took it as we got on the RER at Place de L'Opera, and the effects were starting to kick in just as we got to the park. I immediately got a bit paranoid as I'd heard stories of tough security hiding among the "magic". A French friend of mine smuggled a Smurf costume into the park when it first opened. He got changed in a loo and then started wandering around the place looking a little the worse for the wear in a distinctly un-Disney costume. He was snatched within three minutes and has a fantastic photo up in his loo of four Disney security people physically ejecting a large blue Smurf from the park. God, what I'd give to get one of the Trigger Happy squirrels in there.
Anyway, things were getting a bit hectic but I was enjoying the experience a lot more than I had expected. There was so much to look at, all in hyper-vivid technicolour, and the piped music that follows you everywhere started to take on an almost hypnotic feel. I could see everything in ultra-clear slow-motion: big elephants flying over me, children spinning round in enormous tea-cups, some kind of maze with weird owls popping out of the shrubbery, all in the shadow of an enormous pink castle that started to make me feel very paranoid, like something evil lurked inside. Just as I was trying to keep everything together I felt a tap on my shoulder. I swivelled round to see an enormous chipmunk. He was dancing and waving and I felt threatened and instinct took over and I hit him in the face and he went down hard.
Everything's a bit of a blur after that: I remember children screaming and me being picked up by two security guards as I tried to finish the chipmunk off. Then they pressed a button on a remote and a secret door opened in a nearby tree and I was bundled through it and down into a labyrinth of underground tunnels. I ended up in a padded pink jail cell being guarded by Donald Duck and Winnie-the-Pooh. They were doing the old good cop, bad cop thing. It got really weird. Winnie claimed he'd helped out in Guantanamo and knew how to hurt me without leaving any marks. Donald was quite nice but I couldn't understand a word he said. I think I blacked out and woke up in our hotel in Paris. Stacey is not amused, I don't feel very well.Reuse content