Wry Society: The weekend skiers

When the odd weekend of casual skiing with an old mate turns into a maelstrom of ever more mortal challenges, can sanity prevail?

Image: Phildisley.com

“I think I’ve got blisters on my blisters…”

Not even two double espressos before 9am were enough to get Susie’s head off her desk. 

“But you must at least have worked off some calories?”

Jodie was running out of sympathy. This was the third time in as many months that Susie’s boyfriend Jack had taken her skiing for the weekend. 

“Yes, but look at my face!!”

As Susie lifted her head Jodie had to stifle a gasp. It was true. She looked like she had had a spray tan in a pair of welder’s goggles. 

Meanwhile, across London in Holborn, Jack was sitting at his desk with his feet surreptitiously placed in a state-of-the-art foot spa, trying to ignore the email that had just come in from his best friend Tom. Subject: “Birthday snowfall!”

Jack felt defeated. He had always been a passionate skier – he and Tom had even thought about setting up their own high-end skiing company once upon a time. But he was in his mid-30s now, with a not insignificant job in a not insignificant City law firm, a girlfriend he was seriously thinking of marrying and a secret penchant for weekends spent between kitchen shops and catch-up box sets. He loved the odd skiing weekend. Of course he did; who wouldn’t? But he also loved not getting back to his desk on a Monday morning feeling like he’d done four or five rounds with Anthony Joshua.

This year’s snowfall had been second to none. The first major dump in the Alps had been in November and it had been snowing fairly steadily ever since. Unfortunately, Tom was like a puppy when it came to snow – the more it fell, the more demented he became. 

It hadn’t all been hellish. The four of them – he and Susie, Tom and his latest model girlfriend Anouk – had had a fantastic weekend in Verbier a few weeks ago, taking on some serious off-piste down the back of Mont Fort, before rewarding themselves with long and leisurely lunches at La Vache. But it hadn’t taken a mind reader to gauge that Anouk, a mountain goat born and bred, was getting twitchy. While the rest of them tucked into their fondue, she was tutting despondently over the feeble GoPro footage captured by her helmet camera


Then, just a month later, they had found themselves in La Grave, a small French mountain resort known by its freeriding fans as “the skier’s ski resort”. Death-defying was an understatement when it came to describing the off-piste skiing Anouk had put them all through. At one point, Susie had actually started crying and had to be picked up from the mountain by an UberCopter that had cost Jack about as much as the new Devol kitchen he’d been eyeing up. 

On returning home, as he had helped Susie upstairs to bed, she had issued him a not unreasonable ultimatum – “It’s me or the skiing” – and he had spent most of the night (before falling into an angst-ridden sleep in which he dreamt he was naked and stuck on a precipice) trying to word a text message to Tom to explain that, despite tradition, he was not going to spend his birthday weekend next month with two strips of laminated hardwood, fibreglass and Kevlar strapped to his feet. 

“Have you told Tom?” Susie had asked as he helped her into the Uber he’d had to order to get her into work (other side of London, peak rush hour) the following morning.

“Yes,” he had lied.

When the phone on his desk rang, it made him jump – he must have been nodding off – and the (now lukewarm) water from the foot spa splashed all over the shoes and socks he had placed beside it. It was Susie.

“How did Tom take it?”

“Fine,” he lied. “Shall we have a burger and go to the cinema after work?” 

“Ooh, yes please,” she sighed. “But only if we can get a cab home…”

He must ring Tom, get some work done, eat an inordinate amount of lunch and then invent a conference call that would facilitate a secret 15-minute power nap on the sofa in the meeting room. But first he must open the box that had just been delivered to his desk. Inside was an up-to-the-minute GoPro camera.

“An early birthday present,” read the attached card in Tom’s spidery scrawl, “to document our heli-skiing trip to Alaska, all booked and paid for on me.”