GES121 - Search for a Sprague
Descending on Paris with GE041 and GE047, one of the listed targets was a Spr@gue-Thomson train. One of the first rolling stock on the Paris Metro, and made of metal. The one we were after was a T.95 fact fans.
GE041's diligent research had narrowed the train down to a certain station, tucked out of sight. And so stood in the station eyeing up possible problems, we legged it off the platform just after a train had left. Knowing we had a window of a few minutes. We came to a maze of lines crossing here and there, but we turned back on ourselves into a side tunnel, where we were confronted with huge white metal gates that stretched top to bottom. GE041 was quick to work out a possible way around. He started work with GE047, and I grabbed a photo through the bottom of the gate.
I helped out a bit and we figured we'd done enough to get through. I was first to go, but could only get half my body through, twisting and pulling as much as i could. GE041 being more determined than I, had a go. He managed to shred his t-shirt, but got through. I worked things at the access a bit more and found it was looking easier. GE047 eased himself up and was half way through when we heard "Bonjour", oh shit! GE047 squeezed himself back out where i was stood. We grabbed ours and GE041's stuff, and legged it back to the platform, and up the stairs to the ticket area. We then saw GE041 with a guy who'd caught him in the ticket hall, as we raced up past him to the surface. GE041 got the usual €50 fine. We saw the guy who'd cornered him later above the station while GE041 was being questioned, he looked like a tagger in his white baseball cap and shorts!
Having come so close, the sense of wanting to finish the job was in all of us. For me it wasn't that I particularly cared to see the train, i'm no train spotter. But the exclusivity of only a few having laid eyes upon it unofficially is very much an aphrodisiac. While walking around in the area afterwards we came upon a number of grids, some of which lead into interesting places. GE041 was keen to come back that night, and we all agreed.
After finding a new camera at Haxo station that meant it was a no go, we headed to a McDonalds where the others feasted on Ronald's preservative rich foods. I settled for some 'roast potatoes' and later a beer. It was then back to the station, and a R-A-T-P van that stubbornly refused to move after the station had closed. We decided to have a look anyway, and all popped down into the fire escape. We were down in a double track tunnel now, and GE041 and GE047 decided to turn right, having both poured over a map earlier. I dutifully followed.
It didn't seem like much of a walk before we were at a junction. We had a choice of left or right, and GE041 chose right. However there was a small problem of a so-called 'dong barrier' first to counter. Next to the light on the left you can see a 6ft high long black object, and above it is a another smaller one. They use infrared beams similar to those on scaffold, and had receivers on the other side of the tunnel. Getting past them is mostly down to luck, and in this case, we had some. GE041 went first, and looked down the right hand passage below. It led to a station he reported back, and that we should go for it. So GE047 and then I followed, and into the tunnel. Tip toeing as we went.
We reached the end of the track and could see the station. GE041 and I disagreed at this point as to how to get to the station, as a pir sat in the tunnel to the left of the camera, and a fence sat ahead of us. It was lucky we had the disagreement, because two R-A-T-P security guards walked onto the platform just ahead of us.
This is the view the R-A-T-P chaps would have had if they'd turned around and looked down the tunnel. We were stood near where the floorboards sit on the tracks and lead into the caged area. However we were all out of there before they'd have gotten a chance.
We sprinted back through the dong barriers, opened the gate with cctv, and scrambled out the fire escape. In the 200m Parisian tunnel dash, the Gold went to GE047, Silver to myself, and Bronze to GE041!
We hopped onto some Velib's (or Boris Bikes to Londoners) and cycled through the city back to our base for the stay. A park in NE Paris. A nearby building site we'd slept on the night before had a stack of portacabins on it, and feeling ballsy and that Sunday wouldn't be a work day, we crashed in one of the cabins kitchens.
Still convinced we could make it, another attempt was planned. We were entering the stages of madness, as it was clearly a bit of a mission impossible. There were 5 R-A-T-P vans parked up at the station. Some of these would be cleaners and the party of workers we saw go in. But yet again, we dropped down the fire exit and were in the Metro tunnels. This time we went left, and ended up in single track tunnels.
We were again faced with two single track tunnels and a dong barrier before them. We got lucky with the dong barrier, and were inching our way down a tunnel with a train in. Going down tunnels with trains in is very high risk, as trains are highly prized by taggers, and as such are very much on the radar of the R-A-T-P. We walked all the way to the end of the train, and could see the platform of the station, as well as workers in clouds of dusts doing something to the surface of the platforms. GE041 reckoned it was worth a go, and began to try to sneak to the other side of the tracks, and was hoping to head down the tunnel away from the station. However, as he'd only taken a few steps, we heard, "bonjour!" Oh know, not again! GE047 and I tip-toed back and began to leg it, as I was running I felt sorry for GE041, seemingly continually being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However GE041 ran after us, and caught up with us at the other end of the train (in the shot below) and said the guy had asked if he was R-A-T-P , and GE041 said 'Oui' and the guy walked off.
I knew I/We should have legged it, but we didn't. I knew the chap would inform the R-A-T-P security, which he did, and we'd be screwed. However GE041 suggested we go down the other tunnel that started off parallel to the one we were in with the train. I can't blame GE041 for what happened next, because I had the opportunity to run, but I didn't. I stayed. Somehow the toxic lure of the Spr@gue was too strong. And so we walked down the other single track tunnel. We got as far as the first alcove, where we all shoved ourselves in. Predictably the R-A-T -P security were wandering out of the tunnel with the train we'd just been in and walking up the tracks to the where we'd entered the tunnels. As soon as they were out of site, GE041 said we should run for the fire escape next to the parked train we'd seen, and hide out there.
As we climbed down to the lower bit of the fire escape, we hid in the shadows. It wasn't long before we heard footsteps approaching, and the door opened. The security chaps came in and flashed their torches around, climbed a first ladder, an then feeling satisfied, left. We couldn't believe it, how had they missed us?! We started to relax a little, and had visions of laying low for awhile, and then gettin g the hell out. However five minutes later we heard keys going into the lid at the top of the fire escape above us. The lid opened as we crammed into the shadows, GE047 and I almost becoming one with a door. GE041 crouched in the darkest part of the small passage. They said some words in French for some reason, but not aggressively or loudly. So we figured they again hadn't seen us. We had remained motionless throughout. The worst thing to do in such a situation is to move, as it makes clear someone is there. So again we breathed a sigh of relief. But it was again short lived, as the door above GE041's head burst open again, and this time they had their big torches out, and the lights flashed all over the walls and through the grill mesh above us. I knew we were screwed this time, and we were. They climbed up and pointed the torches directly at us. GE041 went up first and they pulled him by his hair to the door, I went up next and they tried the same, only i had shorter hair, so it slipped through their fingers. GE041 was bitch slapped when he was brought up. We were shunted not very gracefully i would say, out of the fire escape and back into the tunnel by the train. We were then frog-marched to the station platform. And told to sit down.
As we sat on the platform below against the wall, we each had our own R-A-T-P chap to ourselves, who went through all our pockets and bags. They didn't search very thoroughly, as they were mainly looking for spray paint. They were chatting amongst themselves in French, which was rather annoying, because we'd clearly identified ourselves as English. They even had our passports with the fact we were British in for heaven's sake. One chap did speak English and seemed relaxed. Some time passed while they wrote down our passport and address information. And then the Police Nacionale turned up. GE041 uttered his "ohh shiiitt" catchphrase, that I knew wasn't a good thing! Again we had a cop each, and they searched us a bit more thoroughly, although the psychotic looking one that searched me missed my bum bag altogether below my trousers. He also missed my swiss army knife in my bag. GE041 fared better, and a tall short haired woman searching him, the kind of short haired spiky woman that probably likes other short haired spiky women to play naked Twister with. All the time bemused workers were surveying and working on the station around us.
Eventually we were told to face the wall and handcuffed. Hmmm, I wasn't expecting this! The cops packed up our bags, with GE041's lady cop taking care to pack his stuff away, She gave GE041 a cheap thrill by reaching into his pocket to get a lens cap. We were then gripped by our cop escorts, and taken out of the station to a dark van waiting outside. We were all sat on the third row of seats, and then the pyscho cop who'd dealt with me sat in the middle row. Bridget Neilson sat in the front with GE047's cop who drove. We whizzed through town, crossing the champs elysee with blue lights flashing and the siren going. All good fun i was thinking nervously at the time. The cops managed to get lost, and we eventually arrived at Gare du Nord station, where Eurostar leaves for the UK. "Shit, are we being deported" were probably are collective thoughts. We were lead into the station and told to sit on a wooden bench. All around were metal poles with half opened handcuffs and metal rings to attach unruly types too. Across from us a young woman slept in an non-covered duvet, pulled tight over her head. Behind her was a cell of sorts, with plastic fringed windows and door. In it were lord knows how many gypsy looking types. Every now and again, one would be pulled out or pushed in. Some were barely teenagers.
Time passed slowly as we chatted amongst ourselves, discussing what was likely to happen. GE041 was getting agitated quite quickly, demanding some attention, and that johhny foreigner should speak some bloody English too us. Half an hour later or so, GE047 was starting to become equally irate. I, however, managed to get into a position where I could get some sleep, and duly did so. After an hour and a half there, and two and a half hours since we'd been cuffed on the station, I too started to become pissed off. The cuffs were starting to cut in. Sending a text to GE099 to let him know of our predicament probably hadn't helped on that front. One officer revealed that he spoke English, and told us to shut up basically. This was something of a red rag to a bull for GE041, and he egged him on, a mixture of pissed off and brazen humour. As 6am came close, a high ranking officer turned up and ordered us released. The English speaking cop came over and undid our cuffs. "You can go now." My wrists, like the others were marked and painful. I'd never been cuffed before, so it was a new experience, and not a pleasurable one at that.
They'd merely detained us to piss us off, using the tactic of not saying anything at all to install fear and confusion. I was thinking, 'cool, no €50 fine!' We trundled off and went to sleep in our favourite park. Which proved a good move, as GE041 discovered a rather interesting vent hidden in some bushes. Paris, the city that never stops giving those that seek the off the beaten path experience.
Big Thanks to GE041 for research and leading the explore, and GE047 for being good company.