It’s snowing this morning in Sutton Coldfield! I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m pretty sure it has snowed here before, but since the royal town adopted me, it’s the first time I’ve seen her draped in white. England is a damp and gloomy place in December and Sutton’s new gown had really cheered the place up.
I’ve always had a tempestuous relationship with Snow. We’d instantly fallen in love on a station platform when I was small. I remember scooping up my first snowball then licking it to see if it tasted like ice cream – it didn’t, so I threw it at my sister. I then realized snow, correctly fashioned, made a lethal projectile because her first brief encounter with snow produced tears.
Since then I have discovered that my lover is actually a killer, having witnessed an avalanche death and that snow is to be feared as well as loved.
My first ever snow in Sutton reminded me of what winter in the UK was like. Having spent the last seven ski seasons in the Alps, I’d forgotten that traffic grinds to a halt and schools close if one snowflake accidentally lands on another here. I’d forgotten that when it snows in England, the odds on a white Christmas go down, but all other bets are off.
I do remember the frustration I’ve felt at our winter ineptitude. I recall one year when ankle-deep snow turned into waist-deep irony, by preventing me from going on a skiing holiday because “snow” had closed Birmingham Airport.
Depending on their age, the sight of snow brings different emotions to different Englishman. The young get excited, not just because school might (will) be off, but because tobogganing and mass snowball fights might be on. Snow also changes the world of our less war-like offspring into a magical enchanting place and for most it means Christmas presents are close.
For the not so young snow is often a harbinger of doom – not least because their kids are stuck at home. Snow brings commuting trouble and general disruption to the important activities of their lives. The elderly, batten down their hatches and regard the pavements as no-go zones. They buy excessive amounts of milk and generally stock up, as if preparing for the siege of Leningrad.
I opened the curtains this morning and on seeing the first snow, I questioned my emotions – was I excited, was I still young? Or did I just want to bulk buy milk and ‘stay in the warm?’
I had a seemingly important motorway journey to complete and my initial thought was to abort my plans for the day. However while clearing Landie’s windows, I impulsively made a snowball and threw at my bedroom window (no siblings where in effective range) and my childhood love of the damp fun-dust were rekindled.
Season 7 had left my relationship with Snow at an all time low – Snow and I were not speaking when I left Morzine way back in April. It might have been a seven-year itch, but for some reason, my lover, Snow had deserted me along with most of the Haute-Savoie in 2017. It had been a bitterly cold season with high winds and the Agents of Entropy had been rampant. To cap that, the lack of snow had meant disappointed guests and poor bookings.
Having spent the summer on less slippery endeavors, the early Sutton snow was a wakeup call. It was time to forget about those seemingly important life goals and prepare for Season 8. I checked the Morzine webcams. A metre of snow had already accumulated on its top slopes and the Portes Du Soleil was preparing to open
its lifts a week early. It, along with the rest of the Alps, seemed set for a bumper snow season. It seemed like all had been forgiven and my love affair with Snow might be back on.
I’d had mixed emotions on finally seeing Sutton in the snow. But once I’d manned-up, stuck to my plans and headed out in Landie, I realised that my predominant emotion was excitement – I was still young (ish). Maybe for all who ski, it is our fond childhood memories of snow that make us want to go skiing – to once again play in the snow.
If you want to play too – I still have a few beds left at Chalet Benjamin this January – for more info click here: myskifriends.com
And, if you’re after an ideal Christmas stocking filler for a skier or boarder, click here: skiingwithdemons.com