The Guinaudeau Portfolio, 2018

“I’m sorry about this dii-iirr-rty English car”, said Baptiste Guinaudeau, “but I have found it pretty good for driving through the vineyards”. The way Baptiste pronounced the word dirty, slow and low, I was briefly reminded of that elder statesman of British acting, Leslie Phillips. Leslie has always been a good choice when an upper-crust cad is required, and he comes with a small armoury of sleazy, suggestive and smutty catchphrases. But it is more the way he says it, rather than the words themselves, and Baptiste suddenly seemed to be channelling his spirit. It sounded as if he were accusing the car of having something of a dii-iirr-rty if not saucy reputation. Who knows, I thought to myself, maybe his gunmetal grey Range Rover had a mind of its own, and liked to hang around some of the Libourne garages late at night, looking to hook up with a local Renault of dubious morality for an impromptu ‘service’, no questions asked?

Within nanoseconds I was throwing this idea around in my head. This sounded like a good idea for a film; after all, who doesn’t love an anthropomorphic car? I began to mentally pen a rough screenplay. The cast would of course have to include Leslie himself, perhaps providing voice-over for a particularly lascivious Renault 19, although I did wonder whether a Renault 19 having the same voice as Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat might be a distraction. We could film it around Libourne and the surrounding vineyards, maybe get some famous wine names in for a cameo role or two. Would Denis Durantou fancy playing a accident-prone racing driver, I wondered? Would Hélène Garcin-Lévêque star as the love interest? Would Jean-Claude Berrouet be interested in a role as a world-weary mechanic, dispensing racing tips and relationship advice as called upon? The possibilities were endless.

The Guinaudeau Portfolio

Then I looked around at the interior of this luxury vehicle and, seeing that the dashboard, floors and windows were caked in enough vineyard dirt to establish its own cru, I suddenly realised what Baptiste had meant.

Fortunately my flight of ideas had been entirely internal (I think), and Baptiste Guinaudeau (pictured above, at Château Lafleur) did not seem to realise his car was now slated to star in a French-language remake of Robert Stevenson’s classic 1968 movie The Love Bug. He turned the ignition key, and the engine burst into life. Rather than reversing out onto the road, however, Baptiste floored the accelerator and we rocketed up the grassy hill behind his house. There was no road, gravel, track or path to mark the route, and we bounced along between various parcels of vines before emerging onto tarmac at the top, tyres screeching* as Baptiste swung the wheel around.

The movie was definitely on, and this had to be our opening scene. I had just realised I had bit-parts for both Elizabeth Hurley and Keira Knightley when Baptiste broke the silence. “I’m going to pull over in a bit”, he said, “I want to show you something funny”.

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