I tried to persuade my son I'm a woman

'There were four groups excluded. I spent some time persuading my son that I belonged to one of them'
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The Independent Online

About a year ago I was dragged to Eurodisney near Paris on the principle that if I went there once I would never have to go again. There were, in fact, some nice things there, notably the ice-skating rink in front of our hotel which my son thought was sensational; but there were also some nasty things there. They are called queues. People were prepared to queue for hours for a few minutes sliding and riding, which is fair enough if you are that desperate to go riding and sliding, but I hate rides and slides and big dippers and things that take away the pit of your stomach. The only reason I queued was that my son was desperate to go on all these stomach-churning rides and refused to go alone, so I had to sacrifice myself to the common good.

About a year ago I was dragged to Eurodisney near Paris on the principle that if I went there once I would never have to go again. There were, in fact, some nice things there, notably the ice-skating rink in front of our hotel which my son thought was sensational; but there were also some nasty things there. They are called queues. People were prepared to queue for hours for a few minutes sliding and riding, which is fair enough if you are that desperate to go riding and sliding, but I hate rides and slides and big dippers and things that take away the pit of your stomach. The only reason I queued was that my son was desperate to go on all these stomach-churning rides and refused to go alone, so I had to sacrifice myself to the common good.

So there I was, shuffling forward through the series of zigzags which Disney has designed to make you feel you're nearer the top of the queue than you really are, when I came to a get-out clause. There was a flashing sign which said: "Warning! The following groups should not go on this ride! Those with back problems, those with heart conditions, those who are pregnant and those who, when excited, tend to scream a lot and have fits, possibly epileptic, in a way which tends to annoy those of us who are calmly having a good time."

I cannot swear that those were the exact words, but those were the four groups who were excluded, as well as those who were under 1m 20cm tall, who had been excluded right at the start of the queuing process. I spent some time thinking of a way in which I could persuade my son that I belonged to one of these categories ("Look, son, you have always thought of me as your father, but there is a very feminine side to me and, in fact, I think I might even be pregnant, so just to be on the safe side...") but credible invention failed me, so I had to go on all the terror rides.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, if the French so resent cultural invasion by the Americans, how come so many of them flock to Eurodisney or whatever the shareholders are calling it this year? And how come the French don't build their own Disneyworld? Well, they have and it's called Futuroscope, just north of Poitiers, and only a month ago I found myself on the way back from a French holiday going there with a family group including my son.

Futuroscope is different from Eurodisney in one way. It's not about rides, it's all about films and the Imax future. But it's similar in another way. The queues are terrific. Also it rains a lot there. I found myself in a long queue for a dinosaur film which was so long that I was dispatched to get a sandwich-lunch for the queuers, and found myself in another queue for sandwiches which stretched out into the rain. The woman in front of me chose that moment to get rid of the last contents of an Evian bottle over her shoulder, not knowing I was right behind her. She turned round and found she had just missed me. " Vous l'avez échappé belle!" she said cheerfully. "You were lucky there!" Luck is not how I would describe the situation of queuing in the rain to buy some sandwiches for people in another queue before seeing a film I wasn't sure I wanted to see.

Still, Futuroscope is not all films. It has a simulated ride as well. My son insisted on going on it. There was an announcement halfway along the queue. "The following groups are advised not to go on this ride. Pregnant women, those with heart conditions..." Yes! The same four groups are banned all over France from going on rides.

Anyway, I thought you would like to know that last Sunday I went to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta with my son among others, and because it was raining harder than at Poitiers no balloons went up at all but there plenty of roundabouts and horrendous rides, and I wonder if you can guess what groups were excluded from the tougher rides? Yes, you're right. Short people, of course, also pregnant women, heart people, back people and fit-prone people.

But this being modern Britain and not France, there was a fifth group added. Also banned from the rides were "...those clearly under the influence of drink or drugs".

As a an indicator of modern Britain, it's pretty sad. But it's nice to know that I have at last found a group which I have a hope of qualifying for.

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