Tuesday 3 January 2012

Bonne Annee

I have returned from the slopes of Serre Chevalier with a heart-warming tale of human kindness.

On New Year's Eve, we ventured to Briancon's park for their fireworks, which turned out to be a performance of Blanche Neige and the Seven Dwarves, complete with dancers, stampy queen, penguin, polar bear, and creepy man in what looked like a black death doctor costume, dancing in a tree. It was in French so I was unable to unravel the intricacies of the tale, but the fireworks were marvellous and there was a free cup of mulled wine at the end of it.

We rushed home for our New Year's raclette, whereupon I realised I'd lost my phone. I tried hard not to hyperventilate and suggested Jonty ring it, to see if it was in the apartment somewhere. It wasn't. But a girl answered! And then passed it on to her dad, who thankfully spoke English. She'd found it in the snow and would we like to come and get it?

We walked all the way back, and then as far again up a hill, to meet the man in a cemetary. It did cross my mind that this might end badly, especially when Jonty ran on ahead to ring him. But in fact, he'd picked up my phone by the time we caught up with him, so I never got to meet this gem of gentleman. When the man realised we'd walked up he was appalled and said he would have driven down to drop it off! He said he was pleased to be able to help, and it was a great start to 2012 for me. I couldn't agree more. Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.

So, then we ate lots of melted cheese and waited until midnight (difficult, because we'd spent the previous night drinking until nearly 2am and nobody was really very with it on NYE) whereupon the residents of Briancon started letting off their own fireworks. From everywhere. From street corners, from bridges, from balconies - the people in the opposite apartment block had them going from the coffee table out of the window, which kept hitting the eaves. We were open-mouthed but I gather this is very normal for France. Then we saw a fire eater, and a fire spinner, and then some Brits turned up on balconies banging pots and pans which felt proper homelike. Marvellous. And then we got up at 8am and skied for the best part of 8 hours on New Year's Day, which just added to the awesomeness of the whole situation. Then only thing that could have improved it would have been the presence of Mr Z. But, well, you can't have everything.

Now, I know it's hardly the same as the back streets of Briancon, but if you haven't yet seen the footage of the London NYE fireworks, I strongly urge you to watch it now. Happy New Year, everyone.

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