Posted by Mad Mitch on  UTC 2015-09-09 07:45

There are moments in all of our lives when we really can’t – or in some cases shouldn’t – go on anymore. That final demand from the Inland Revenue, that terse conversation with the VAT Inspector, the cheerful auditor turning up at your office unannounced, your spouse reading your diary (and working out the star system), that technician from Pete’s PC Palace finding the pictures on your hard disk.

Easing the passage

It’s at times like this that you really need a friend; an understanding, non-judgemental person to help you through what could otherwise be a difficult time. Avoid at all costs DIY at this critical moment in your life. High buildings are unpleasant and require a head for heights, pills are messy and can easily go wrong, slashing things can be dangerous. Above all, no trains: no one will remember you fondly if you brought the entire rail network to a standstill for several hours.

I am President of S.E.E.D., the Society for Elegant Exits and Departures. We are the friend you seek in your hour of need. Here’s the four step S.E.E.D. guide to solving all your problems, illustrated using our British branch as an example.

Step 1: Suggested preparations (if you have time).

If there are still people left for whom you have a warm spot, insurance policies are always a good thing, if not, don’t bother. Re-mortgage your house, sell your car, empty your bank account, converting the lot into cash. Post wads of notes to the said people, or if you are really bent on revenge – in the case of your wife reading your diary, for example – burn the lot or give it to a tramp (S.E.E.D. has disposal facilities available). Make sure that your credit card will hold out for the next 24 hours, though.

Step 2: Friends rally round

Some members of the British branch of S.E.E.D. will meet you at Waterloo station. Using your credit card, we will take first class tickets on the afternoon Eurostar to Paris. It will be a pleasant trip, with much jolly banter, recitations from John Webster etc. At the Gare du Nord, a limousine (credit card) will be waiting to take the group to the bar of the George V, where we will shift a couple of bottles of Dom Perignan 61 (credit card). The limousine (credit card) takes us to 'Le Grand Véfour', in the rue de Beaujolais.

Step 3: Your flexible friend is here

Of course, the exact menu depends on you. You might, for example, start with the excellent Oursins de Bretagne au fin velouté et caviar, or perhaps just a dozen oysters – in homage to François Mitterrand, who, according to his doctor’s cheerful account, downed thirty of these just before his own moment of truth. Of course, this will probably be the first time in your life (it will certainly be the last) in which you have eaten oysters without secretly worrying about the consequences. Nothing should worry you now, as your companions from S.E.E.D. will tell you.

You could then continue with Ravioles de foie gras à l’emulsion de crème truffée– a divine dish that you will remember for the rest of your – admittedly short – life, followed by the brilliant Dos de cabillaud poêlé au garam massala et lait de coco or perhaps the fine Omble chevalier du lac Léman servi meunière. Follow this with the Parmentier de queue de bœuf aux truffes and you will have a perfect accompaniment for the Véfour’s 1991 Romanée-Conti.

Conclude with some of the excellent cheeses – the Bleu de Termignon is wonderful, for example. Remember, too, that any of the cheeses can be eaten in any quantity without thought of the night or the morrow. And then perhaps the Blinis au chocolat et glace à la pistache, followed by plenty of coffee – to keep you alert for Step 4 – accompanied by the gâteau de Savoie and a couple of ancient armagnacs perhaps. One last passage of the credit card and immense generosity to the waiters will leave you in their memories for ever. It should be noted that after this meal even French waiters will be polite to you – for probably the first and certainly the last time in your life.

Step 4: Many farewells

You and your S.E.E.D. team, by this time in great good humour, proceed to the pedestrian crossing over the rue des Petits Champs, just a few yards from Véfour. There are farewells, perhaps even tears, but they are tears of joy when you see the happy faces of your new-found friends and think of the moment when your spouse/banker/taxman gets the credit card bill. The red man changes to green, one last handshake and you set off across the crossing.

Fini. It will be quick. You will feel nothing. You can always rely on a French pedestrian crossing.

The only safe way to cross

An instructional image illustrating the only safe way to cross a French pedestrian crossing: the red man is showing, a vehicle has stopped on the crossing and all the other cars are stationary. NB there is safety in numbers: some will survive.

Health and safety notes

Don’t even think about doing this on your own. It is true that the white strips painted on the road in France are in fact a method of bunching pedestrians together so that French motorists can take aim more easily, thus avoid damaging bus stops and other street furniture. It is, however, important that you ensure that you cross on green at a signal-controlled crossing. This will be just as quick as any other crossing – in fact quicker in our experience – but will offer a clear legal position without any hint of voluntary causation. Your setting off over the crossing will ideally coincide with the arrival of three of the beaten-up Peugeots with collapsed rear suspensions that the Parisians call taxis. If this happens you can be confident that there is a God and that he wants to see you now.

Your experienced S.E.E.D. friends will ensure that Step 4 runs completely smoothly, avoiding those elementary pitfalls that can so easily lead to disaster. In a recent sad case a DIY not only set off on the red man, but the first car that came along was a German tourist in Paris, who, of course, came to an orderly stop well before the crossing. The DIY could only stand and watch the resulting pile up of twenty cars, for the cost of which he is now being pursued by a German insurance company. He’s now booked in with us for early next week, but on account of the letters he’s already getting from American Express we may have to skip dinner.

At your service to the last

We can also offer you a special deal on people such as the young scroat from Pete’s PC Palace. In a recent case we arranged for an insurance salesman who’d sold our client his now worthless pension to win a romantic evening in Paris. Our client had the immense satisfaction of seeing the person who had robbed him of his future, prompted by the charming escort we had arranged, set off on the opposite side of the pedestrian crossing a few seconds before he did. It is worthy of note that when they recovered the salesman, apart from the usual tyre tread marks, they found the single indent of a Peugeot rampant lion exactly in the middle of his forehead. There is indeed a God.

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