It’s early Sunday morning in the shadow of Le Mont Blanc and we want to get our run in before it starts cracking the flags here in Chamonix. They don’t have a direct French translation for that Yorkshireism, but the papers are full of stories about La Canicule – the heatwave.
Meeting up with our mate Helen, we head upriver, knowing that the return will be downhill. At an altitude of 1000m, it’s good to start steady. The shadows are long and lazy, perfect for a photostop, especially as Europe’s highest mountain looms obligingly behind us.
As we faff around, an affable chap appears and offers take our photo. He didn’t look like the kind to sprint off with our phones – and if he did, I was pretty certain Noel could rugby tackle him to the ground while I screamed blue murder in my best vernacular French. I’ve been reading a book on French slang and have learned a number of new words, which I won’t repeat here. Suffice to say, variations on the word for ‘willy’ appear many times.
Our photographer’s accent is American, so I ask him where he is from before launching into full journalist mode. It turns out he’s an economist from Washington DC, and I suspect a highly respected one at that as he’s just just spent a year with the OECD, in Paris. They are kind of like the Thunderbirds of the economics world, with international rescue of currencies everywhere, as well as fighting The Hood.
The obvious question to ask is about the Grexit, the potential exit of Greece from the Euro and possibly the EU. A discussion follows, he is clearly very clever. No, he says, Greece should stay, it wasn’t their fault in the first place. Not only that, the Germans should stop being so damned efficient so the other countries can get a look-in with their imports and we’ll all be better off. I wonder how that will work out, I ask him.
We thank him and head back downhill where we are greeted by Helen’s five-year-old who is massively impressed that we have run up Le Mont Blanc – and so quickly too. We don’t correct her, everyone should have a bit of fantasy in their lives. Reality, particularly economics, can be just too serious.