Two years ago I went skiing for the first time. I enjoyed it. Apart from when I was skiing, which I loathed. I liked the sitting in outdoor jacuzzis and eating stuff covered in cheese. But the sliding down a snowy mountain on big curly sticks, in boots that squashed my feet so I was in constant pain? Not so much.
Recently some Austrians challenged me to give it another go, saying they could help me enjoy it. I was absolutely sure that they were mistaken. But I like nothing better than proving Austrians wrong so headed off to the beautiful town of Lech in the breathtaking mountains of West Austria.
My instructor was also called Richard, but was otherwise as different from me as a human could possibly be (tall, handsome, athletic, enjoyed skiing). I told him I’d only skied once before and had forgotten the few things that I had learned, but he assumed that I must be able to ski a bit and tried to get me to go down a mildly a steep hill to get our passes. I mean, sure, it must be disappointing when you’re highly skilled at something to have to teach an utter klutz. When I immediately fell over, screaming like a baby, he seemed to understand that I was about to waste two days of his valuable time and we upped curly sticks and headed to the nursery slopes.
As with last time, the boots were crushing my feet in a way that I felt certain couldn’t be right. It was a pain that made me feel sick every time I moved. I didn’t want to make a fuss, especially as I was surrounded by three year old children who were merrily propelling themselves along without crying out in agony. Richard proved to be patient and kind, but also pushed me gently onwards by subtly encouraging me to try more difficult maneuvers.
We broke for lunch. Hooray! I took off my boots and could barely walk. I wasn’t a hopeless idiot with a low pain threshold! My boots were much too tight. It was lucky I had learned to ski a bit as it looked like I might never walk again.
My strange, short but wide Hobbit feet are clearly not made for skiing. Or at least the people who make skiing equipment assume that someone like me only exists in overlong films that stretch a short book way beyond its natural length. How annoying to have all the pain of Hobbit feet, with none of the getting to be in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies as a result. I changed my boots in the afternoon and for the first time skied without excruciating pain. Which at least helped me to see why other people might enjoy this.
I still didn’t like it though and was constantly
terrified , but it was mainly the foot pain that had caused me to hate the
pastime so much and without that, it was just stupid and scary, and not
tortuous, stupid and scary. The first
day done we went back to the hotel and had some beer and I remembered what it
is I like about skiing holidays, when the skiing part stops.
After being humiliated you get to go and have fun and remember that life is enjoyable. But without the pain you’d never have been reminded.
I found it hard to relax though as I knew that the next day we’d be going up the proper mountain. To find out if I survived you’ll have to wait til next week.
I was very disappointed not to be the presenter on the rebooted Robot Wars TV show (losing out to Dara O Briain). I had refused to sign the contract because it forbade personal relationships with the robots. How dare they imply that I would be so unprofessional. But if Sir Killalot wants to unwind by having a small Somerset man enter his exhaust pipe, in the privacy of his own cupboard, then that’s his choice and no business of the producers.