‘The parapent has crashed through the window?’ Noel’s French is usually very good, but the hotel receptionist couldn’t understand his exclamations as he pointed to the window across the yard where, to her relief, there was no-one dangling from the balcony. But there was a problem.
I’d been reclining on my day bed after further adventures in Chamonix, every hotel room should have a spare bed next to the picture window. I may have shut my eyes, there could have been snoring, but the storm woke me, they are always spectacular in the mountains and well worth watching. The old gentleman in the apartment opposite had the same idea as he watched from his balcony.
As I turned to inform Noel that there was thunder in the air, a statement of the blindingly obvious, I heard a crash from across the yard and saw the gentleman had fallen backwards into his room. He was sprawled on the floor, conscious, but unable to get up, I could see into his apartment and there was a walking frame and a stick, neither within reach. He was clearly alone.
Noel dashed down to our hotel reception where his French failed him, but the urgency and pointing, along with me calling from the window because I could see what they couldn’t, soon brought help. While the manager tried to find the apartment keys, Noel had a go at scaling the wall to the first floor balcony. His sandals weren’t as good as his rock shoes and I was just about to throw them down to him when another guest came to the rescue.
It can only have been ten minutes or so, but it must have been an age for the gentleman on the floor, helpless and alone. The hotel manager, who knows him and keeps apartment keys just in case, helped him to his bed and contacted his daughter. All is well, we checked. Thank goodness for day beds. Thank goodness for Noel.