I hope that some of you will be disappointed to hear that Skiing With Demons III (SWD3) will not be published in time for Christmas – mostly because I haven’t written it.
Amongst the ambivalent, there is someone who is happy about this fact, Dr Debs. She was concerned that I would withdraw for another summer into my man-cave and forget how to sleep, eat, wash and dress in the correct order. Although her happiness is of paramount importance to me, there are other reasons why I haven’t put much ink onto paper this summer.
The first being that not enough shit has happened to me, on or off the pistes, since the last narrative ended.
The Après Aliens and the other Agents of Entropy were mostly dormant last season and this summer, I’ve not been prepared to poke them with my usual rash life choices, simply to create material for a book.
The second reason is that I’ve been working on a better answer to the biggest question posed by the Chalet Project: “What do ski bums do in the summer?”
Telling people I was a writer wasn’t really cutting it and declaring I was a house husband was raising eyebrows further. The first answer seemed to suggest self-delusion and the second an assumption of idleness. Both seemed to lack suitable respect in my opinion, so I’ve come up with much a better answer; “I am an electrician!”
Instead of writing, I devoted most of the summer to wiring. I studied hard, passed my exams and generally worked out which way to turn a screwdriver. Now my apprenticeship is well underway, I’ve discovered that being a “sparky” is very similar to being a chalet host (no, really!)
Being an electrician, like skiing, involves meeting lots of unusual people from a wide socio-economic background and often in a domestic setting. Instead of vin chaud, I make small talk over mugs of tea which is altogether safer. Instead of sitting on a chairlift I field the groundhog questions while standing on my ladder; “where are you from?”, “got any kids? etc. etc.” to which I’m equally tempted to invent answers.
When pulling people’s wires apart I adopt the same air of confidence I use for ski leading. Instead of trying not to look lost when I am lost, I try not to look shocked, when I am shocked, because I forgot that brown was ‘live’ and not ‘neutral’.
I rely on Landie to do my job as I do in Morzine. I wonder every morning if she will start or what will be the day’s malfunction.
At least I don’t have to scrape ice from inside of her windows or worry about it forming in her diesel. Instead of skis, it’s ladders I constantly load on and off her roof rack and often forget to adequately secure them. Unlike ski boots, I can drive Landie in my specialist shoes, even though they have steel toecaps.
My high visibility vest, inscribed with the word ‘Electrician’ reminds me who I am and suggests I know what I’m doing. The words ‘Ski Club’ on my Leaders jacket play a similar role in reminding me I’m allegedly a good skier (whatever that means).
So, finally, I have a “proper job” to see me through the summers and better still, one that seldom needs further clarification. And, if an eyebrow is raised, I tell its owner that I carry a big, “fuck-off” drill to work and declare, “I’m not afraid to use it”.
The final reason for SWD3 being delayed is that I’ve been working on another book – which isn’t finished either. Its working title is ‘Walking With Demons’ and it’s about one man and his trusty Land Rover exploring the mountainous parts of England – or at least I think it is.
Be assured that I’m not done with the skiing thing yet; there is definitely another book in it. I have rented a new chalet in Morzine (Chalet Benjamin) for the forthcoming season. This one is within staggering distance from the centre of town, which should see the return of my more après-orientated clientele. They have historically never let me down when it comes to producing entertaining material.
The Ski Club is also sending me back to Switzerland (Flim/Laax) again this season to run another Peak Experience holiday. Leading fifty year-olds around a mountain usually produces an incident or two, although I hope none of them will be serious. And finally, I’ve signed up for a BASI level-2 course this season, which is guaranteed to fill a chapter.
So apologies if you’re missing a Christmas stocking filler this winter. I’ll try and make sure it’s present in next year’s sock and not been replaced by excuses. However, there is more to life than skiing or so I’m told, and I’ve been busy sorting my life out – if only to make it sound better.
To book a room in Chalet Benjamin, click here: www.myskifriends.com
To book a place on the SCGB Flim/Laax holiday, click here: Swiss Bliss
To buy a book (SWD I or II), click here: www.skiingwithdemons.com
OR if you need an electrician – call me !