Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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The title of that lovely Simon & Garfunkel song (and album) came immediately to mind this morning as the most unwelcome of alarms woke me at the very unlovely hour of 3a.m.
If it’s Wednesday (or any day with a Y in it) it must be a French air traffic controllers’ strike. And so indeed it is. Faced with the choice of a cross-channel swim (never my strongest suit) or Eurostar to get to Paris for a meeting with L’Oréal Travel Retail Managing Director Vincent Boinay, I’ve opted for the latter. After an early morning shift on the website that, like its creator, never sleeps, I’m here at the rather good Continental Bar St Pancras sipping on a necessarily strong Cappuccino.
The staff here are to a woman cheery and welcoming despite the unseemly hour. Not, you’ll note, to a man. There is only one male here, in fact, among a staff of six and ever since I sat down at the counter he has been shouting, gesticulating and generally being a pain in the derrière to his colleagues and his sole customer – me. I suspect he is a moonlighting air traffic controller and if he carries on like this all day, I can guarantee he’ll stop the traffic here too. He’s bespectacled and a spectacle all in one noisy, intensely irritable human being. I think he aspires to be an auctioneer. “A Cappuccino and croissant… going once, going twice, SOLD to the tired-looking bald man in the white shirt!”
Even as I write, he’s done it again. His genteel colleague has just asked the day’s second customer, “Can I help you?” Maybe she was too softly spoken for his liking. So he chooses to repeat the question, this time at a million decibels. “CAN I HELP YOU?” he booms [yes CAPITALS indicates SHOUTING]. He smiles. He’s very pleased with himself. Do you think, dear readers, it would be alright if I punched him on his nez? Then again I think his colleagues might beat me to it. If looks could kill he’s a dead man walking.
It’s hard to believe we’re into April already in travel retail land. So far it’s been a slow month. Heck, Dufry hasn’t bought anyone since last month. Let’s hope it stays that way. I may be able to sleep all the way to Paris.