It was in the centre of Paris that I was run over. Our ever-faithful bicycles were used to the maximum around the city. It was rush hour, and the reputation the Parisians have of being the worst drivers in the world was justified. Admittedly, we were on the pavement, studiously avoiding the square-hatted policemen who had told me off earlier that day for riding on the path.
We were sitting at the lights, and when pedestrians were shown the green light, off I sped. A lady in a small car hurtled around the corner through the red light, we collided. Actually, I pushed myself off the car, only knowing too well that I could be sucked under. All eight lanes of traffic came to a halt; Paris came to a standstill. The lady in the car was distraught; I was shocked.
Without really knowing what happened, a tall, handsome man picked me up and almost carried me to the pavement, while crooning, ‘Madam, you are ok, non? You are not hurt, non? Madam, you fell like a ballerina, like poetry. I am so sorry. You come all this way to our country to visit and this is what we do to you? I am so sorry, madam. What can we do to make it better?’
My knees were weak, not from the accident but from the smooth, poetic voice that caressed my ears. As I stared up into the handsome, dark face of my saviour, letting him lead me to wherever he wanted to go I felt a sharp pain in my ribs.
The magic of the moment was shattered with a, ‘She’ll be right, mate,’ from the unmistakable Aussie twang from my husband as he elbowed his way between my saviour and me.
Reluctantly, the man let me go. As I thanked him, my heart sank as he disappeared. I think I loved him for a short time, if not him, then certainly the romance of the situation. In true Aussie form, Noel handed me my bike and said, ‘Come on, let’s go!’ And off we went. I was somewhat shaky on my bike.
After a few minutes, the last twenty minutes of events caught up with me and once I realised that I had actually just been knocked down by a car, I demanded we stop and have a wee dram to straighten my nerves. Never one for turning down a drink, Noel stopped at a café and had a cool beer. I was still a little shaky, but Noel and I had a good laugh at the event.
‘I had to hand it to him,’ said Noel, ‘he was smooth.’ Noel had watched with amazement as I was led off. He wasn’t sure what he was most amazed by: the skill of the Frenchman or his wife so easily led away with devotion in her eyes!
‘I wasn’t sure whether I should have punched him or shaken his hand!’ Noel said.