The end if the world continues to draw very slowly nigh, apparently, what with ratings agencies picking on France, Greece continuing not to tell the bankers they lost their bet and tough titty, Eurocrats sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling nananana not listening etc etc. The apocalypse is much more exciting than this in the movies – bloke wakes up in hospital to find the place teeming with zombies, everyone dead of hideously contagious disease which causes your brain to leak out through your nostrils and predatory aliens kidnapping everyone to work on their doomsday machine. Right, let’s get stuck straight in with raiding food stocks and waving guns about. Hurrah! Though they never seem to be short of things like hot water and decent shampoo, mysteriously.
This, on the other hand, is what the fall of the Roman Empire was like – a long depressing slide during which everyone with any nous went off to throw in their lot with the upcoming local warlord, until you found that there were half a dozen of you living in what used to be the tax office, dismantling the Coliseum in order to build a wall around the pigsty and drinking rainwater because you have no idea how the aqueducts work. Less gore involved, admittedly, but also a whole lot less exciting and more depressing.
Not that that it’s having all that much effect on us up here as yet, with the possible exception of the astronomical price of petrol, which could shortly make it uneconomic actually to go to work in the first place. Possibly we should have a riot in protest, during which we could kill two birds with one stone and put a few bricks through Casino’s window while we’re at it. If anyone out there is driving to resort and thinking they’ll do a canny shop in the valley, don’t bother – whatever robbing bastard runs the place is charging more down here than the shops upstairs. The rest of us have all turned over to monthly supermarket sweeps in Leclerc and cellars stuffed with tins and dried food.
Skiers still seem to be skiing (come on, what sort of utter girls blouse would let the mere end of the world stop him doing that?), though I have noticed a) a lot more refused cards than usual and b) large numbers of people paying cash. I have to assume the refused cards thing just means people have failed to spot that their moolah is not going nearly as far as it used to and they’ve hit the wall at the end of the overdraft two weeks in advance.
Not sure what the wads of cash business is about though. Italians are notorious for rocking up at the ticket window first thing in the morning waving 500€ notes, but the French have started doing it this year as well, as a result of which we ran out of 5€ and 10€ notes entirely over New Year and had to wait a week for extra supplies from the bank. This was actually less inconvenient that you’d imagine, though people did get a bit shirty about being handed 15€ in small change.
I’m told the Italian cash obsession is down to them all working on the black and no-one paying any tax (which might go some way towards explaining their current predicament), so maybe the French are all at the same scam and worrying about being left with a mattress stuffed with confetti when the euro finally gets round to imploding and we all have to go back to francs. Or possibly deutschmarks, depending on who ends up in charge.
Still, it adds a new dimension to the general chit-chat, which usually tends to focus on the weather and what effect that’s likely to have on visitor numbers/Parisian manners (lack of)/etc. What will happen in February? Will la crise keep them away, send them to the cheaper resorts or prompt them to blow their undeclared income on lift tickets and fin de siecle carousing? Will there be zombies? Who knows, but it makes a change from talking about whether or not it’s likely to snow on Friday.
Of course it’s always possible that euro meltdown might be good news for the British ski market, depending on whether or not it manages to immolate the pound at the same time. I can see you being able to buy a lot of lire for your squid, and you’ll probably need a rucksack if we’re talking drachma (yes, you can ski in Greece, believe it or not). On the other hand, the Hungarian midget might decide it’s a good electoral ploy to evict the Brits altogether, declare war and do a Napoleon. He’s about the right height, after all.