Glamorous vision ended with a dose of cold reality

We should go skiing, I said. It’ll be fun, I said. How naive am I? In all fairness, I was trying to prepare my friends and myself for a holiday in Scotland next year near the beautiful ski resort of Glenshee.
I had this vision in my head, you see. A vision based on watching Ski Sunday as a child.
You know – fir trees, a light breeze and me gently weaving my down the slope like the Milk Tray man. That sort of thing.
As I hurtled down the hill at Tamworth Snowdome on Saturday with all the grace of an out-of-control, roller-skating elephant, this image came back to me and I had to laugh.
Then I hit the crash barrier. Hard. Every bone in my body rattled – along with my teeth. I wasn’t laughing anymore.
I heard the “ooh” from another member of my class as the instructor slid over to me.
“Are you all right?” he asked. “Fine,” I spat, through gritted teeth. “Just get me back up there.”
I was determined not to quit. Even though I was by far and away the worst of eight learners who had each paid a hundred quid to “learn to ski in a day”.
I’ve discovered that skiing is one of those pastimes which looks deceptively easy. A bit like darts – only more painful.
I kid you not when I say that I discovered new ways of falling over at the weekend. Backwards, forwards, legs splayed – I did them all.
All the while, five and six-year-olds were speeding past me with annoying regularity and 50-year-olds looking like Franz Klammer at his peak were making me feel ashamed for being so unfit and uncoordinated.
Then there were the snowboarders – the absolute chavs of the white powder, with their beanie hats and callous disregard for novices like me.
In fact, as the day wore on, they seemed to be holding a competition to see which one of them could pass closest to me without actually taking my legs out.
After four hours, I was panting and sweating and the cause of much hilarity because of the steam which could be seen rising from head in a controlled climate with a temperature of minus two.
All the while, much to my annoyance, my mate Mark gracefully recalled all he had learned as a teenager on a school holiday to become teacher’s pet at Tamworth.
Then again, he fell over after slipping on a wet patch in the Starbucks coffee shop about a minute after donning his ski boots. Serves him right for showboating.
By the end of the day, I had learned to “snow-plough” my way from half way up the slope to the bottom without falling over.
I class that as a monumental achievement, given the fact that I am renowned for being useless at any kind of sport.
Golf is the classic example of my ineptitude. My dad plays and once took me for a round up at a beautiful course on the shores of Loch Lomond. I lost six balls in the drink and by the end of the day he was ready to disown me.
Then there was the time I was invited to play in a four-ball game and somehow managed to hit a bloke who was 150 yards away with my tee-shot.
By the same token, I absolutely love cricket but am equally useless with leather and willow.
I was looking forward to representing The Sentinel in a charity match not so long ago.
It was all set up so nicely. It was a glorious day and my parents and some friends had driven a fair way to watch me play.
Having stroked the first ball through the covers for an easy single, I then played across a straight one from a 16-year-old bowler and heard the heart-breaking tinkling sound of my stumps collapsing having faced just two balls.
I haven’t played since.
Yes, when it comes to sport, I am a proper donkey.
Or, at least I was…
As a Christmas present, I received a voucher for archery lessons and six months ago yours truly did the beginners’ course.
Talk about an epiphany. Finally, after 38 years, I had found a sport I was competent, nay, actually quite good at.
I had become an archer.
Now, for the uninitiated, archery is a very civilised pastime governed by strict codes of behaviour and with medieval titles such as Lady Paramount at every tournament.
Only in archery do you hear the refrain “three cheers for the field captain” at the end of every shoot.
My fellow archers are extremely courteous and I’ve discovered that you are only ever really shooting against yourself. Which is nice.
Since the beginners’ course, I’ve joined a very friendly club, kitted myself out with a cracking recurve bow (complete with all sorts of gizmos) and gained my Third Class badge for target shooting.
I’ve also just earned my white tassel at what is called a clout tournament – scoring enough points by shooting at a flag in the ground a whopping 165 metres away. Chuffed isn’t the word.
It seems you can teach an old dog new tricks. Sod the skiing.


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