Wednesday 6 March 2002

Snowboarding in France last week. I'm rad and gnarly and I listen to Linkin Park.

Skiing holidays are wierd, they're a proper and complete break from the norm - I hardly thought about work all week - but they're more regimented than a normal working week. Up at 8, breakfast in the chalet served by London recruitment consultant/boarding dude chalet boy Barney or funny, dreadlocked Geordie/boarding dudette chalet girl Jen. Trudge through slush and ice to the kit shop, boards on, meet stereotypically stereotypical French boarding instructor "ze most important movement is wiz ze 'ips.. you must be like a sex masheen.". Board "you must remove ze brain". Pay 5 for a coke and pizza for lunch. Board "why you fall over so much, are you gay?". Sleep. Eat three course meal cooked by comedy Jen. Drink. Sleep. Repeat until twisted knee or severe stomach cramps force you to miss out on one aspect or another.

It's not even like you're experiencing a different culture, everyone speaks English, the Coke tastes the same, there's so much snow underfoot you can't tell whether they drive on the left or right. Any local with an an ounce of sense hires their place out over the winter and suns themself on the proceeds on a distant beach. It's more like All Bar One does a snow special.

And the wretched, relentless conversational topics, I'm guilty of it too, but the incessant talk of powder, edges and boots, red runs, green runs and off-piste, and all the continual witty banter about the difference between boarders and skiers left me gasping to talk about EastEnders and I don't even watch it. I did manage to talk about cars with someone though so I get high marks for conversational invention.

I had pressure put on me over the week. Five couples in a party of 12 left Jason and I as the token single men and hence duty bound to live life to the boarding max for the vicarious pleasures of the stay-at-home loved-up pairs. MUST drink more, MUST stay out later than the others, MUST pull, MUST be apparently impervious to pain.

I did drink more and did stay out late, and to complete the whole out of character experience, I even pulled a nice Belfast lass, but let myself down by being pole-axed by stomach pain and missing the final night out.

Still, now I've returned I am wishing I was there again - the quiet anticipation of the chair lift, the knee trembling beauty of the view from the top of the mountain, the board schussing smoothly over deep powder, the whiplash motion of my head during big spills, the end of day bruise comparison - it certainly beats Ipswich.

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