We are now over the hump — which is to say the peak of the Tourist Season, which in the Greater Daglan Area (GDA) runs roughly from mid-July to mid-August. You can see the cars heading back to other parts of France, the Netherlands and Great Britain, loaded to their roofs with all the possessions they hauled here a few weeks earlier. And besides, I’ve confirmed this with the Sarlat Test.
The Sarlat Test is a simple way to measure the intensity of the Tourist Season in the GDA, and it works like this: If you can drive into Sarlat without going numb, as you inch forward in traffic, the worst is over. If you need to take a bedroll and food supplies to survive the traffic jam, the Season is still at its peak. The test is well proven (Liebstein and Stevenson, Oxford University, 2003), and our personal experience once again confirms it.
A few days ago, my wife Jan and I were foolish enough to venture into Sarlat for some shopping, and wound up having to inch forward in a traffic jam that stretched for what seemed like kilometres. But yesterday afternoon, when I drove into the town for an appointment, it was a relative breeze. So, the worst is over for 2016.
A sad sign of our times: I’m sure you’re aware of the kinds of signs that are plastered on the walls of hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s waiting rooms, whether in France or elsewhere. Generally they run to the benign and more-or-less informative: The need to keep your hands scrupulously clean; the need to cover your mouth if you cough; the need for getting your flu vaccine; and so on. But in Toulouse earlier this week, I came across a sign that was actually fairly troubling.
My wife and I were in the fourth floor waiting room of a well known (and excellent) clinic, waiting to meet the (excellent) surgeon who had operated on Jan’s hand a few weeks earlier. (It all went well; she’s fine; thanks for asking.) But as I wandered around, I found a sign that I’d not seen before — with step-by-step advice on how to deal with a terrorist attack.
It seemed pretty sensible: Run away if you can; take cover if you can’t run away safely; call the police; raise your hands in the air to show you’re unarmed when the police arrive, and so on.
All very good. But quite troubling that in a civilized country, we need to be concerned with such things. Then again, not everyone here — and in much of this troubled world — is actually civilized.