13:25 . Last weekend, on saturday to be precise, I was by the newspapers stand laughing loudly at this Brexit headline (there may have been a Theresa May related joke in there) and then realised mid-laughter that I was standing next to Michel : the Brexit chief negotiator for the European Union.
I immediately composed myself and started a conversation, a tad awkwardly :
(Me) Bonjour, erm… hello M. Barnier. How are the Brexit negotiations going?
(Him) Well, we shall see. What was so funny about this headline?
(Me) Ah. Nothing much (trying to change topics) So, the next round of negotiations is happening today, isn’t it ?
(Michel) I surely hope not ! Otherwise I really should not be here as we speak ! (He laughed)
(Me) (asking myself if I could get more awkward) Ha. This makes sense. Best of luck with that! You are doing a great job. Are you having a good day so far?
(Michel) Not too bad actually. I am picking up my wife today – she is visiting for the weekend. I should head in fact; she is arriving fairly soon!
– and there was gone the awkwardness; and so was he. From now on I will remember him not only as the man dealing with one of the most challenging tasks in the history of the European Union – i.e. its first and hopefully last divorce – I will also remember him as the kind, somewhat simple man awaiting impatiently for his wife at the train station – ahead of a hectic sunday spent at the office.