The Channel Tunnel came up at work today. That is to say, the topic of the Channel Tunnel. Not the actual tunnel. That'd be weird.
In any case, we discussed the Channel Tunnel at some length. Not the length of the actual t... you get the gist. It was a while, anyway.
A few things leap to my mind when considering the curious beast that is the "Chunnel". I remember discussing the Woolfire festival and whatever the hell woggle-swaps were while on a Eurostar train with Woodcraft people. I remember being disappointed at being under the sea without any calypso-singing crabs to verify this fact. I can even remember being 16 and coming across a coachload of French people on a Le Shuttle train, all drinking a glass of champagne "just for fun". But the biggest and dirtiest memory I have is of being on Le Shuttle when I was 14 and making my way to the toilet.
This was in my more Innocent days. I was a 14-year-old fresh out of year 9; I had a diary with increasing levels of teen angst, adequate SATs (6, 7, 8) with which I was not pleased, pleasant but mixed memories of a Woodcraft camp in the recent past, and a crush on a beautiful redheaded vegetarian pacifist. I also had more sexual desires than I would have liked to admit (read: didn't admit), but less experience than other boys my age. Long story short, I didn't masturbate.
I did all but. I enjoyed watching soft porn in order to get an erection and enjoy the feeling. I'd never had an orgasm, so didn't know what that was like (and didn't have the desire to; all the boys who had in my year made it sound absolutely horrendous), but I knew how to get hard. I did so for a cheeky moment of bliss almost every time I went to the toilet (after actually using the toilet, of course), as well as in the corner of my room. Why should being on the Chunnel, I reasoned, make any difference?
On my way back to the car, I was still aroused. I'd constructed a whole situation in my head; it involved a Chinese girl and sex up against a wall in one of those vestibules that connect train carriages. Possibly with me... even though, y'know, I was 14. In my mind, I was ready for sex at that age. I probably wasn't. But, throughout the rest of the journey (and even the entirely of the subsequent holiday, during which I didn't have any fun), that picture was pervasive. The image I constructed in my head - the girl and the motion of the train, the lights past the windows and unknowing chatter of the passengers in the other cars. It was like a drug. The best kind, even.
So, whenever somebody mentions the Chunnel, my mind shuffles through the deck of images until it finds my 14-year-old self dreaming of a situation that wouldn't happen, in a place that couldn't happen, at a time when it shouldn't happen, with a girl who didn't exist.
And so it is.