It could have been embarrassing.

The Regina Hotel Paris.

The following took place whilst filming “American Built” the movie was later named “Race For Glory” a crap title but we can blame a “Focus Group” for that. The Bikes we used in this in the main were the wonderful 3 Cylinder RS500 Hondas. I say in the main because sometimes they were Suzuki RG 500s, occasionally even it’s road version and a couple of times TZ250 U’s dressed as Hondas ( that wasn’t easy ill tell you) total swines to ride as they were jacked up to the max ride hight wise and had a huge rear tyre. One of the crash scenes we used the 400cc 3 cyl Honda Road bikes as victims.
If any one has a copy of the movie one can play “spot the bike” a bit of competitive viewing, probably more fun than the movie itself.

This tale could not have been told accurately without the invaluable help of Vera Van De Velde.

It wasn’t part of the plan to walk up to the concierge at the Regina to ask if I could borrow his room key for the second time that day. Dressed this time only in a rather modest towel.

The first time was fairly innocuous , I’d left the key in my caravan which was parked in the middle of Monthlery race circuit. We were using the concrete banked race and test track to get some some shots for the film we had been involved with making since the middle of summer 1988. We had already worked at the GPs of Spa Francorchamps, Paul Ricard in the south of France and the Yugoslavian circuit Rieka ( now in Croatia of course this was before the country exploded into constituent enclaves in the 90s )

My friend Kamile and I had been planning to stay in the caravan but when the dark arrived at Monthlery it didn’t half look black and creepy. Paris was looking bright and attractive. So we opted to stay in a hotel curtesy of the film company. Had I known what the Regina was I don’t think the caravan idea would have made it as far as the consideration brain cell. It is the sort of place regular ordinary folk can’t ever afford $500 a night that sort of thing. Smack in the centre of Paris, in the Place des Pyramids. The Regina is perhaps a bit stuffy and rather traditional, certainly utterly classy. The film cast and crew were quite acceptable, even the norm for this gaff, a couple of race bike mechanics maybe not so much. We were on our best behaviour though and after a couple of nights started to relax . Kamile even invited his Girlfriend down from Brussels with her daughter Vera who was 13 to share the experience.

I should have done the same with my Sue really but she was otherwise engaged being 3 months pregnant, project managing our house extension and running my business, oh! and looking after our other 3 children aged 13, 11 and 3. So there was no way I could give her time off for a few days in Paris it stands to reason. So I thought I’d phone her whilst I ran a bath. Maybe I could tell her what its like living the millionaire lifestyle, I was certain she would love to know.

A bunch of us, Kamile, Cathrin, Vera and a couple of others Chas Mortimer’s then wife Jaqui or Big red as she was secretly nicknamed and her friend who were sharing a room had arranged to meet in the lobby at 7 pm that evening to go out for a meal.

Whilst sitting naked on the side of the bed chatting with Sue the bath had slipped my mind, it’s easy to see why I am not given multi tasking jobs. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a rat run across the floor! CHRIST! A RAT? AT THE REGINA? After a double take I realised it wasn’t a rat at all but a stream of water scurrying rodent like across the carpet. My god what have I done? I hung up and sploshed into the bathroom to attend the taps.

I put some clothes on and went back down to the lobby to report my misdemeanour and throw myself on the mercy of Renne the concierge. He was really cool about it, he just said “zis is is not ze problem I will get madame “Mimi ze Mop” to attend to it maintenent” When it was pointed out that although that was all fine and dandy, what about the room underneath? Then his head came off and he started to rush around like a chicken with its neck rung. Meanwhile I went up the elevator with Mimi. Who got stuck in to sucking up a thousand litres as if this was an everyday occurrence. Jacqui saw me hanging out side my room and enquired my predicament, I told them my tale and they suggested I should ,use the shower in their room , they were all ready to rock and roll as it were and would wait for me in the lobby.

A great idea I striped off again in my room and bobbed next door with a towel round my waist to freshen up, leaving Mdm to her task. When I’d done and I must admit to now running behind schedule somewhat, rushed to my door to find the mop lady had gone and the door firmly locked. I looked back to Jacquis room to watch it click shut , Damn! So there was no alternative, down to the lobby yet again dressed as a refugee from Ben Hur.

When the elevator door slid open in the lobby I stepped confidently out in front of my colleagues who were patiently waiting for me , now laughing their heads off! Despite my protestations of “its only me don’t worry,this is not what you think, its only me”! Renne meanwhile with an alarmed visage joined in the clamour protesting ” but Monsieur! Zis is not acceptable!” He quickly settled down, when he recognised me,stepped up to the plate, and calmly did the business with his spare key.

I was given a new room later but without a bath, I guess I was no longer trusted with that sort of technology. A smashing Hotel and I’d love to return one day, I’m sure they won’t remember me after a quarter of a century.

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