It's time for that to change.
As all crews know, the guys at the front of the boat do all the hard work. Which is why I reckon a go-getter like me would be an excellent Olympic crew.
There's a question mark over one member of the British Sailing Team, and perhaps if I can get to the bottom of it then the door might be open for me to take his position.
I mean, how hard can it be to crew a 49er?
Time to interview the man who could be my ticket to Rio.
“Hello, Alain.” I say, “Or should that be “Bonjour, Alain.””
I look at him knowingly.
He looks back at me blankly.
“Erm, ok,” he says, “Bonjour, Damian.”
It’s now I hit a problem. My parents have failed me in many, many ways, and one of them is that I never learned French. I did German at my school, and not very well – my teacher congratulated me with unconcealed amazement when I managed to scrape a B at GCSE. But I have no knowledge of French at all. The only sentence I can think of is from popular culture.
“Voulez vous coucher avec moi...” I say.
“What!?! NO!” Alain interrupts me quite vehemently.
“Hang on,” I say, “I wasn’t finished.”
“Oh, sorry.” He says.
“Voulez vous coucher avec moi,” I pause, “Ce soir” I finish.
Alain looks at me in much the same way my German teacher did – with unconcealed astonishment.
“The answer is still no” he says, with great emphasis on the ‘No’ bit.
“Look, who are you?” he asks, “I was under the impression that this was an interview about my sailing.”
“And I was under the impression that you were supposed to be British” I say. I struggle to keep the righteous anger from my voice. “I take it you don’t deny you understood the French I just spoke.”
“Of course I understood it - “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?”” he says.
Blimey – the conversation is moving fast. I’d heard the French could be a bit racy, but I wasn’t expecting to be propositioned within minutes of meeting him. Although I am incredibly good looking, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.
“I’m very flattered, Alain, but I’m a happily married man. So, tempting though the offer…”
“I WASN’T ASKING YOU!” Alain nearly shouts at me, “I was translating the French that you spoke.”
“Is that what that means?” I say, astonished. It puts a whole new light on the song for me. I’m going to have to stop singing it in the lift with my boss. “Anyway, we’re straying from my point a little – what I want to know is why a French man is sailing for Britain in the Olympics.”
“I’m not French” says Alain. “I was born in Lee-on-the-Solent.”
“Oh really.” I say, using my best sarcastic voice. “Then how do you explain that your first name is Alain?”
“It’s what my parents decided to call me. It doesn’t make me French.”
“Only French people are called Alain” I say
“Like who?” he asks
“Like Alain Prost, the French racing driver”I say
“Ok. Any others?”
Hmm. I can’t think of any other Alains.
“So, on the basis of one person you have extrapolated that I am French.” He leans back, looking at me as if I am a fool.
“There you go using French words again.” I say as I frantically Google Alains on my phone.
“Extrapolated isn’t a French word” he sighs.
“What about Alain de Botton?” I say, triumphantly.
“He’s of Swiss extraction. For God’s sake - I am not French. If you’re not going to change the topic, then I’m terminating this interview.”
“OK, OK.” I say. “Let’s start with nutrition. A lot of my readers are interested in what elite sports people eat and drink.”
“Great.” He says, looking relieved. “What would you like to know?”
“Do you eat a lot of frog’s legs and snails to get your protein?” I ask
“I AM NOT FRENCH.” He says
“Alright, sorry.” I say “So what do you like? Onions? Garlic? Baguettes?”
“Oh. My. God.” He is now shaking with fury. It must be his continental temperament.
It becomes clear he is not going to answer my question.
“Let’s move on,” I say. “do you like any other sports?” I ask.
He lifts his head from his hands. He looks grateful. “Sure. I like kitesurfing and road cycling” he says.
“Cycling, eh?” I say. “Like the Tour de...”
“Don’t say it.” He says, warningly.
“France.” I say.
“Right! That’s It! The interview is over.” He stands up and marches towards the door. I have failed to get an admission from him. I might as well end the interview on good terms.
“I’m sorry, Alain. I didn’t mean to upset you. Best of luck in Rio.” I say.
“Ok, apology accepted.” He replies. “But the interview is still over.”
“Fair enough.” I say. “Goodbye Alain.”
“Au revoir” he says, with a flawless French accent, and he leaves the room.
Some Actual Proper Information on Alain Sign
Of course, there may be some people that want some actual, true, real information on Alain Sign. Here's some that may be useful:
You can learn plenty about him from the British Sailing Team page ...
...or his World Sailing page...
...and then, of course, there is his campaign website...
...and you can follow him on Twitter
Useful Videos Featuring Alain Sign
It's a helms world, so there aren't that many videos just of Alain Sign himself. This video from a few weeks ago is quite good, though: