Friday, 20 September 2013
Don't worry, this is not a harrowing story of unfortunate souls clinging to a leaking ship in the hope of reaching a safe shore and a better life. In Monaco, or planet money as I like to call it, boat people are the poor souls that arrive on a cruise ship, hoping to get a photo of a better life. They mostly climb ashore in Villefranche sur Mer, about half way through my train journey. They look around them bewildered holding on tightly to their maps and brochures, hoping they've gotten on the right train that will take them to Monaco. I can see the fear in their eyes as they turn to me and struggle to remember their school French. I mostly let them muddle on a bit before replying in English. I mostly see them later in front of the casino, taking pictures of the fancy cars parked in front of it.
Shopkeepers reluctantly open their doors to them and quietly mutter under their breath as they leave;
'If you have to ask the price dear, it's obvious you can't afford it'
Every day I tell myself that planet money is not the norm, it is just a bizarre place I come to work.
One joke doing the rounds at the moment is about a french man coming to open an account with a bank on planet money.
'I would like to deposit a million euros' whispers the man.
The cashier whispers back 'that's OK sir, we take all deposits, poverty is nothing to be ashamed off.'