Summer seems to have given up the ghost early this year, what with snow down to 2600m and a persistent north wind which necessitates the wearing of winter boots and a vest (in addition to other items of clothing, obviously). This isn’t all bad news though – the early snow bodes well for opening over Toussaint week and the advent of the autumn sends the tourists scurrying back to their nine-to-five, which means that a) there might be some produce in Casino for a change and b) I can stop hutsitting and go on holiday. Not that we can afford a holiday, you understand, but if we waited until we had enough money before we did anything we’d never get out of bed.
But before we close the huts, board up the restaurants and go back to being a hick town populated by shambling alcoholics, stray dogs and tumbleweeds I feel that the tourist horde deserves some kind of recognition for its efforts in both entertaining us all summer and providing that crucial bit of extra business which just about makes life in the mountains a viable year-round proposition.
Following my summer on the checkouts at Marché U I decided some kind of awards were in order, in acknowlegement of the selfless efforts made by members of the public to astound, amuse and frequently merely baffle the cashier. And so I present the 2Alpes End of Season Supermarket Customer Awards. (This should properly be done by someone like Terry Wogan at a glitzy star-studded event full of shallow celebrities, but there’s no budget for that sort of thing, what with going on holiday and everything, so you’ll have to make do with a list.)
Most Annoying Nationality: the Italians, by a mile. No-one in second place because everyone else was so far behind. Really, people, have you considered the possibility of conversing at anything less than full volume? Or standing more than three inches away from people with whom you are not actually sexually intimate? Clearly not.
Silliest Outfits: Dutch snowboarders, who appear to do their clothes shopping in Milletts tent department. (The Jews were disqualified from this category for trying too hard.)
Best Facial Hair: the Jews. Some fantastic beards out there, well done everyone.
Worst Behaved Children: the Italians. But let’s face it, look at the example they have to follow.
Best Behaved Children: the French. Parents please note: politeness in your children has a significant mitigating effect on their general annoyance factor and renders them more funny than irritating.
Most Stupid Gormless Customers: this was a tie between men and the Italians, so the award has gone to Italian men. Special mention to the one who appeared not to know what his own bank card was for.
Best Dog: a close field, this one, with plenty of strong contenders. The award probably goes to Emilie’s Snoop Dogg, for his complete lack of any resemblance to his namesake. Special mentions go to inappropriate dog with the sad eyes, nice beagly thing who didn’t need to be tied up, and Yorkie on a cushy number who rides about in his mistress’s shopping basket while she carries the shopping in the other hand.
Most Ridiculous Behaviour: good grief, the list is endless. Persistently trying to get in the out door and wondering why it won’t open (everyone); completely failing to recognise your own currency (Italians); completely failing to recognise your own language (Brits); asking where things are when they are on the shelf in front of you at about eye level (various people); asking the cashiers what the weather is going to be like this afternoon (does any of us look like Michael Fish? Er, no.) I could go on. However, the award has to go to the two people who (independently of one another and on different days) got their naked arses out in the checkout queue. Both Italians, needless to say.
Stupidest Product Award: far too many entrants in this category really (most of the stock, in fact), but it has to go to the Parc des Ecrins bottled mountain spring water. (You are staying in the Parc des Ecrins, sucker, what did you think that stuff was coming out of the taps?) Runners up included various kinds of water with sugar in, frozen pasta carbonara at over 5€ for two people with the appetites of very small mice, individually wrapped ready-made Scotch pancakes and ‘cake mix’ (that’d be flour with dried egg in it then).