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Wednesday 27th January 2016


I was a bit terrified this morning because Richard had said we’d start the morning in the way he’d threatened to start yesterday, with us skiing down the bottom of the blue run on the mountain to the ticket office to pick up our passes. Loads of skiers would be skiing by and I would feel like a man going into a motorcycle clothing shop without knowing about or liking motorcycles and everyone would think I was an idiot. Or I would fall over and die. I was pretty sure that I would die at some point on this trip and have resigned myself to that fate and made peace with the world and left my affairs in order, but it would be a shame to do it at the start of the day. I fell over once in the main lane, but otherwise went slowly and steadily and skied quite well. But I was tired. After a half bottle of wine and a cocktail last night I had woken up at about 3am and not been able to get back to sleep, despite being exhausted, so wasn’t looking forward to a day on the mountain, even though I’d been given the impression we’d be on a pimpsy slope.

But once I had succeeded in getting down to the ticket booth we now had to take a proper and terrifying stair lift up to where we were going. And I realised part of the reason why I am probably not made for skiing. I really don’t like heights, or crashing at high speed into the ground or a tree or falling off a cliff. And the risk of these things is what seems to make skiing enjoyable for the idiots who like it. I had expected a short chair lift ride up to the easy bit we were going to ski on and then a chair lift ride down again, but I noticed that none of the chairlifts had any people on them on the way back. This was like being someone on a conveyor belt with loads of other humans that was heading into a pie factory and suddenly realising that no people came out. There was only one way down from the mountain that we were getting higher and higher up and that was to ski down. Richard, keen to throw me into the deep end had been economical with the truth or the language barrier had been firmly down. We were coming down the whole fucking mountain. Still in my stupid head I was assuming there was some really easy way down, but whilst there was certainly some difficult ways down, there were no easy ones. There are no beginner slopes at Lech, just blue and red runs. After having been happily skiing alongside children and only being slightly worse than them, I was now going down the whole of an intermediary slope. I clearly wasn’t ready and certainly hadn’t thought I would be doing anything like this in my two days of skiing. But I had no choice now but to give it a go. And I was glad to get high into the mountain at least. It was peaceful and beautiful and would obviously kill me (spoiler alert- not yet), but this would be a beautiful place to die and hopefully they wouldn’t find my body for 5000 years and I would be held up as prime example of 21st Century man and future archaeologist would try to interpret what the crushed Mini Mars Bars in my pockets were for. Offerings to a god of war? Did Mars Bars even exist?

I started well and my snow plough was keeping me safe and on my feet and I felt like I might even get to the bottom successfully and maybe still thought that we were going to some special place where there would be a helicopter to take us down the difficult bits. I crossed the top of the mountain and sped a long a long straight bit and was going great guns. But my tiredness quickly kicked in and things got trickier as we hit some proper blue run slopes. I had to zigzag and snow plough my way down, which I did tentatively and slowly, but still felt like I was doing well. But then I started falling over and lost my confidence a bit. And we had to ski down some quite narrow bits with big drops into nothingness down the side and I worried about what would happen if I lost control and flew off the mountain, which just made me fall over more. I was going so slowly that it would have been a very difficult stunt to have pulled off, but I didn’t put it past me. Richard was patient and picked me up when I fell and I was actually quite impressed with myself for how well I was doing really and the fact that I kept going, even as my energy and confidence evaporated. And even though it felt quite good when I was doing things right, I still wasn’t sure why people would want to do this. I am risk averse and cowardly and think too much about everything and assume I am going to die when I am walking down the street, so propelling myself down an icy mountain just fills me with dread. And yet here I was doing it. Not liking it, but doing it. And is there a better metaphor for life than that?

It felt like it took hours to get down and I fell a few times, but never seriously enough to hurt anything but my pride. As we got towards the bottom Catie captured my prowess on video in a clip that looks like a staged attempt to do comedy or one of those film special effects where the world goes by quickly as the central figure barely moves. I am going so slowly that for the first few seconds when she showed me it I assumed she had shown me a photograph by mistake. I snow plough, exhausted and at a snail’s pace as people whizz by me, as if choreographed to show up my ineptitude, then as I come to a halt I manage to trip myself up with my pole and fall and roll. It’s possibly the funniest thing I have ever done on film. Hope you enjoy it. But I had skied much better earlier on when I wasn’t so tired and beaten.

I headed for a coffee as Catie and Richard went back up the mountain for another go - I owed Catie that as she had patiently waited for me at every fall and had my back. It was just after 11.30 so we’d only been up the mountain for about an hour. My Apple Watch said I had done 14 mins of exercise, but I think it might have just been timing the bits where I fell over. I don’t think I was on my arse for 46 minutes anyway.

I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to go back up again. Not today anyway. I had done so much more than I thought would be possible, but I didn’t have the energy to do it again or the parachute to save me when I inevitably suicidally steered myself over the edge. I am glad I did it, but it has still not turned me on to the joys of skiing. Or maybe only as a comedic art form.

So we had the afternoon to ourselves, still with a child minder looking after Phoebe and taking her off to play in the snow. After returning our skis we went to the spa at the hotel and sat in the outdoor hot tub (definitely my favourite thing about skiing and then went to the sauna. I was surprised to see a woman enter the sauna having taken off all her clothes and lie down opposite us. I know Europeans have none of our British repression and childishness, but this seemed a bit over the top. I sat there in my swimming trunks, turning red, trying to look anywhere else than at the bottom bits  that were smiling up at me (you know, I imagine). I mean I am 48 years old and should be mature enough to cope with this situation, but I am not and like a News of the World journalist I had to make my excuses and leave. I mean, if I had known that there was a tiny and hot wooden room where I could sit all day and have European women parading their naked bodies at me I might have pretended I’d twisted my ankle, or at least posed in when my wife was up the mountain. Though surely this was just one overly bold and unrepressed woman. But when I got out I saw a sign saying that we were supposed to be naked in the sauna. It was us that had committed the social faux pas. I couldn’t understand the logic of nudity being a requirement to be able to go in there. Sure if you want to be free and let it all flop out, then go ahead, but what’s the problem with a man wanting to hide his pathetic genitalia from the view of an uninterested stranger? A hypothetical man, obviously. 

It also said that under 14s weren’t allowed to go in the sauna, which meant that over 14 year olds were allowed to go in the sauna. Europe disgusts me. Also that means that a 15 year old me could have gone in there and imagine how pathetic and embarrassed and confused he would have felt, if this was so bad for the nearly 50 year old me. Blimey. I was pro being in Europe until this happened, but I think now that the UK should have an immediate Brexit and try and row the islands away from this hot bed of liberation, freedom and non-embarrassment. What kind of sick people could not find the naked body shameful and amusing?

Of course the woman is no doubt writing a blog today about the awful British man who came into the sauna with his genitals flagrantly covered up.

It’s been a brilliant holiday and if that sauna story is not enough to convince you to holiday in Austria, then I don’t know what is.

The film of me skiing down a mountain is not the only brilliant short film that I’ve been in recently (though obviously it’s the best one, satirising the pace of modern life and the shortcomings of the common man). Mosquito, the film in which I play a man who uses escorts (typecast again) is now available to view on vimeo. It’s really good, I think and has ace people in it and you can see me doing some “serious” acting. Do spread the link if you like it.

Also my 200th Metro column came out today. Blimey.

And the video RHLSTP with Aisling Bea is now up in these places.

youtube -
vimeo -
itunes -

Audio should be on BCG and iTunes soon.

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