British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Francois Mitterrand alone spoke this week of one of the engineering marvels of the century in the lofty language that it deserves. Everybody else calls it a chunnel.
A French journalist, for example, wonders who will preside over the dining cars of the trains that will rush through the 31-mile tunnel under the English channel. If it's a British chef with cucumber sandwiches, he warns, the French will brown-bag it to England.
An American journalist, recalling that the British drive on the left side of the road and the French on the right, pictures vast junkyards at each end as a result of drivers blinking their way off the car-trains into the daylight and onto the wrong sides of the yellow line.
Those who didn't find it funny found it impossible. For them, the most important items in the Thatcher-Mitterrand agreement to proceed with the tunnel were that nothing is in writing yet and that the banks still have to put up nearly $7 billion for construction costs.