Blogs | Dieppe seen by Peter Avis
02/08/2010 - 12:10

Fun time for the ferry

R1l 8670 <p>It all happened on Dieppe seafront, up against the jetty which sees the Newhaven ferries arrive and depart, day and night, continuing the link with the land across the sea, as they have been doing for two centuries past.</p> <p>And, as the Seven Sisters pulled out of port on that warm summer evening on the last day of July, a hundred or two of us gathered on the jetty to wish the ferry "farewell and a good wind".</p> <p>The ship saluted us with a lusty blast on its hooter and the shore responded with a recording of the Beatles playing <em>All you need is love</em> (which opens appropriately with a bar of <em>La Marseillaise</em>). Celebratory balloons were launched from the upper deck of the ferry and from the jetty opposite: blue and yellow (the colours of the ferry company LD Lines) from the ship and blue and red from the shore. A dramatic and joyful celebration.</p> <p>For celebration this truly was: we were taking part in Dieppe&rsquo;s first "F&ecirc;te du Transmanche", in honour of the ferry and of all those who have worked (and, indeed, travelled) on it through all these often tumultuous years.</p> <p>The festival was organised by the resourceful people of the Communications and Entertainments departments of Dieppe council, collaborating with the ubiquitous and bilingual Ben Collier who could properly add the title of impresario to his journalist&rsquo;s visiting card.</p> <p>Ben contacted Brighton jazz and rock groups, the Vintage Hot Four and the Laylanas, to bring&nbsp;authentic tones from the other side of the Channel. The Dixieland jazz of the Hot Four was a great revelation to many Dieppois, who are not accustomed to that sweet sound. And the Laylanas held their enthralled audience of hundreds long into the night.</p> <p>There were stalls promoting LD Lines (who had a double deck bus on parade, too) and Brighton tourism. Plus stalls offering English jams, teas and other peculiar products.</p> <p>Brian Collinge &ndash; of TUG Horizon, the ferry users&rsquo; association &ndash; was there, doing a brisk trade in pots of Marmite and HP sauce; and fellow Tugger Nick Wellings, renowned for his knowledge of Flaubert and railway timetables, attracted crowds to view his unique archives of ferry history.</p> <p>Claude Olivier, Dieppe&rsquo;s premier grocer, was offering premier crisps (which the French call, oddly "chips") and Michel Agodi, long-time friend of the Brits, was dispensing B&eacute;atrice Collinge's hot Cornish pasties (from Tesco), while TUG Horizon president Pierre Marlin displayed his organisational skills.</p> <p>Elsewhere, beer from the barrel was on sale: not exactly reminiscent of a pint of Harvey&rsquo;s from Lewes, but appreciated by many with a thirst bearing down upon them.</p> <p>Through it all, local historian David Raillot&nbsp;wandered, wearing the historic uniform of the ferry service, which was honoured also by an exhibition of ancient posters of "the shortest route between London and Paris".</p> <p>Norman Baker, Lewes and Newhaven&rsquo;s ever active MP and vigorous defender of the ferry service, sent his good wishes to the event&nbsp;and pledged to work with S&eacute;bastien Jumel, Dieppe&rsquo;s Mayor, on reinforcing cross-Channel links.</p> <p>Lots of goodwill, and lots of fun that summer evening. Now it needs lots of follow-up.&nbsp;The service must survive.</p> <p><em>PS: If you want to add a comment to this blog, please click on the link below: 'ajouter un commentaire'.&nbsp;</em><em></em></p>

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