The most distinguished Englishman to visit Zermatt was Edward Whymper, famous for being the first person to climb the Matterhorn. He made eight attempts to climb it, only succeeding when he realised he was about to be beaten by an Italian. He now lies buried in Chamonix, a monument to the great British adventuring spirit.
Even once he got to the top of the Matterhorn I doubt he made as much noise as a group of people from Yorkshire we had the misfortune of running across this evening. We went out from dinner having left the children in the hotel with the lovely Ed. Suddenly as if from nowhere they appeared along with trays of lager, clouds of smoke and extremely loud voices. It began with a lot of random yelling. Then it turned into games like the famously intellectual ‘give me…clap clap…names of…clap clap’ which I last saw being played at the annual Hatfield College rugby club dinner; famous for its high-brow evenings and charming traditions like chanting ‘moose’ en masse when an unattractive girl enters the room.
Offensive as the Yorkshire contingent were (I did at one stage wonder whether I should renounce my English citizenship) it was an interesting study in anthropology. There were children there and you could see how they would grow up to be just as loud and uncouth as the adults around them. I watched in wonder as one girl aged about eight took to yelling ‘anyone who doesn’t want to play – go away’ and wolf-whistling to get the attention of the others. Actually it was rather like watching monkeys in a cage at the zoo, only more depressing.
There was one upside though. Our children have been fairly menacing over the past few days. But spending time in the presence of these louts made us look forward to seeing them again. We quickly paid the bill and headed back to the hotel where the girls were fast asleep and Leo was waiting to give me a kiss.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007