When I were a lad...
But that's enough of faux Yorkshire-isms. This is about international co-operation, and the way the internet has shrunk the world.
On Wednesday Susan and I climbed into Célestine to drive to Amboise to do some work. On our way we came across a diversion (re-sealing the road to Charnizay), so we followed the diversion signs until Ferriere Larçon, at which stage I decided it might save us time if I found a route that didn't just return us to the road we originally intended to be on.
So I pulled into the parking in front of the church, and pulled out a map. Unfortunately I was a bit sharpish with putting the gear lever into neutral, and this caused the mechanism to lock up. No way could I make the gear lever move. We rang Jean-Louis, but he was attending to family business and couldn't come to perform what he described as "30 seconds work", and although he described the process to Susan over the phone I was unable to make it work.
This was a serious problem, requiring some serious teamwork. While I tried to unblock everything Susan rang Tim to ask if he could (a) come and rescue us and (b) find the phone number of where our client was staying.
Once Tim had arrived we tried together to fathom the instructions we had received, but eventually he and Susan went off to try find a mechanic who could see to the car immediately (without luck). Susan then came to collect me with our other car.
We spent the afternoon visiting various garagistes, all of who were working like fury trying to clear the backlog before they close for holidays on Monday. We also called in on Nicole and Alex, who suggested we contact "rétro-mécanique", Le Grand Pressigny's old car and machinery club. This paid dividends. We rang the president of the club (who was out harvesting) but when we finally made contact he suggested we speak to the people at Ligueil-Auto. So on Thursday afternoon we went to Ligueil, and spoke to the mechanic there.
He said he didn't really "know" tractions, but he rang the bodyshop next door who happened to have a Traction Avant in being rebuilt. This gave him a point of reference and access to the man who had disassembled the car in the shop. We agreed he would collect Célestine and repair the selector.
In the meantime, I emailed a couple of Australian Tractionista friends - Gerry Freed, who lives near Bordeaux, and Leon who is a bloggyfriend. Leon passed my email on his friend Ted (president of the Citroen Classic Owners Club of Australia), who responded immediately (or so it seemed) with the same instructions Jean-Louis had given, but in a language I understand completely. Gerry also responded with helpful hints, all of which I passed on to the mechanic in auto-translated French, along with the relevant section of the revue technique (the manual in French).
Yesterday after lunch, the phone rang. All that international co-operation had paid off, and the mechanic told us we could come and collect Célestine. He reminded us about treating "grand-mere" gently on the gear changes, and off we tootled, like nothing had happened.
Of course, it was really disappointing to have to ring our clients and cancel their day tour of the Loire Valley. It was the first time in 3 years we have had to do that, and it really reinforces the fact that our search for a friend for Célestine needs to take priority. We have saved about 50% of what we need, but the rest will have to come from our emergency money. That will reduce our emergency funds somewhat, but we can justify spending part of our emergency funds to avoid a situation that has the potential to seriously reduce our income.
Anyway then - when I was a kid, Thunderbirds was my absolute favorite TV show. International Rescue has done it again!