Sunday, 30 January 2011

Knowing my limit

I was marginally hopeful that the next few posts would document my rise from reluctant learner to snowboarding’s biggest fan. Starting with the first sight of the slopes, strapping on the board for the first time, even the first fall…right through to day 3 when I’ve been assured it’ll all start sinking in and moving in the direction of “fun”.

So to start the story we had the longest journey here imaginable. We’re in France – from England you might say that’s not all that far…but I’ve visited my friends in America in a shorter time than it took to get to Val Thorens!

We started with a 3:30am pick up from home. Now my boyfriend hadn’t slept, although I got about 4 hours, so he really did have the worlds longest day…Jack Bauer has nothing on him. We arrived at the airport which took a fair while to check in – 2 different baggage drops because skis and snowboards can’t cope with the corner on the conveyor belt and have to be checked in elsewhere.

After a quick bite to eat we boarded the plane, which was delayed by half an hour and then finally after 2 hours we arrived in Geneva. It took nearly 2 hours for our bags to come through…in fact mine came through with the first bags from the next flight on the carousel so I was reaching a particularly high stress level fearing my bag had been lost.

Then of course we had missed our coach to the resort so we had to be reallocated to another bus which didn’t leave for another hour. Then a speedy 3 hour bus ride across to France and finally, FINALLY we arrive in Val Thorens. At that point door to door we’d been travelling for 13 hours.

13 hours! There’s a channel separating us from France not an ocean!

So tired and grumpy we weave our way between lots of Europeans who don’t waste their energy on politeness or making way for the red faced weary travellers laden down with bags and boards and stuff and we finally get into our room. The worlds smallest room…I had a studio flat in London bigger than this room…but we’ve got to somehow fit 4 of us in it! After the coin toss which allocated us to the sofa bed in the living area we battled our way around the spar to buy teabags and milk. My boyfriend created a kettle by boiling a pan of water and pouring it into a jug to pour into tea cups. No kettle…why would there be? All the cool kids drink percolated coffee…yeah there’s one of them – completely wasted on 4 tea drinkers!

Finally the 5th member of our party arrived and we went out for some dinner…but everywhere had stopped serving food so we ended up with a kebab from the nearby takeaway…some generic meat kebab that was actually mostly onion…bleurgh!

So day 1 proper – Sunday arrives. We get up bright and early eager to get out, hire some boards and get us going, somewhere on the kiddy slope. We start walking down the slope to the flat bit – which is already intimidating me a bit…bit steep that even for walking…when suddenly Chris, the most experienced member in our party stops us and tells us to strap our boards on – what here? Are you crazy – what about waiting til we get to the flat bit? Ok when I said this part was steep I may have been slightly over exaggerating it – although it felt steep enough to me that I wanted to just sit down and slide down it. So we strap boards on. Our lovely patient boyfriends help us upright and we stand legs straight, back of the board digging into the snow and we move forward and stop and sit down a few times in the manner of a toddler learning to walk. There I am sliding forwards as my boyfriend in front of me slides backwards – just short of clapping his hands encouragingly saying “come on, that’s right, you can do it, come on come to me, well done!” while I go “woah woah woah” and sit back on my arse with a bump. So we do this a few times until finally I lose my balance, fall and in an instant I forgot about sitting and just threw my arms beneath me and landed on my wrist.

What I’ve learned since then is that Snowboarding and I go together like Mr Bean and carelessly discarded banana skins. So it’s only natural that within 20 minutes of strapping on a snowboard I’d sprained my wrist. Well I could’ve predicted that! My only regret is not putting a bet on it.

So after holding my wrist for a bit, lying back on the floor in the manner of an over acting “injured” footballer and barking “just give me a minute will you” at my boyfriend who’s tying to encourage me try again I eventually admit defeat. But because I can’t put any weight on my right wrist I can’t even unstrap the board. Eventually we walk down to the flat bit and I optimistically test whether I can put any weight on my wrist but I can’t. I sit in the snow with the board across my knees and cry. Yes I cried. Disappointment, pain and a feeling of letting down my boyfriend who loves snowboarding so much that I wanted to try it for him.

So we head back to the hotel – walking up the driest path to the hotel carrying a board in my left arm which feels like it’s getting heavier and heavier with each step. I’m feeling so miserable at this point that I forget about the icy patch at the bottom of the steps to our hotel and I again fall over flat on my back with my board landing on top of me. “I f*@king hate this holiday” I mutter practically throwing my board at my boyfriend and trying to get up without the use of my right hand. And I freely cry all the way back to the room.

My boyfriend helps me out of my snow gear sprays my wrist with deep heat, bandages it up and makes me a cup of tea. Then we take the board back to the hire shop so I don’t waste any more money and I settle on the sofa with the laptop and a pile of dvds.

But actually in hindsight maybe now I’m a little bit relieved because I’ve never been fully keen on the idea, close to petrified most of the time I thought about it and now I can just say “well I tried it, I hurt myself and I have no desire to try it again” And who would blame me?

Ok so my boyfriend currently has to fasten all my clothes for me and cut up my food so I can eat. Which makes me cry just a little bit every time, but that’s just the frustration of feeling completely useless. At least RSI was just a dull ache that made it difficult to work now I can’t use it at all.

But at the end of the day I’m on holiday. If this was a summer holiday I would spend all day sat by a pool reading a book. Lazing around sunbathing and just relaxing. So now I get to do the same thing. Lie on a sofa and read, watch movies on the laptop and more than likely hang out in the spa for a bit of pampering.

So maybe it’s not all bad. My partner in learning has picked it up really quickly and the boys learned 10 years ago when they were younger and more keen. I know my limit and I should’ve probably been a bit more honest about my general reluctance to even try it…but at least I did try it. And I can honestly say I have no desire to ever try it again.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Say goodbye to my legs

Today is a long day. I've been in work for about 12 hours today and it's still only 10:45am.

Last night we had our work's Christmas meal - it was postponed due to the bad weather in December which resulted in us having to shut the office 2 days early - I didn't actually go to the Christmas meal because I went on my mate's hen night instead (quite possibly the greatest hen night I've ever been on...we went for a meal at an all you can eat buffet and then went home - not an L plate in sight, no sleazy male strippers, no dancing on the tables and no long weekend to Benidorm!)

So despite being on a hen do, I'm the bright and breezy, wide awake, staff member today while everyone else is ailing. I've seen so many bacon butties pass through the doorway this morning, our office is beginning to look like a cafe.

So I'm probably not alone in feeling like today is being the longest day in the history of time.

For me though I just want to go home, finish my packing and go to I can go on holiday. At 5pm tonight I will officially be on holiday. At 3:30 tomorrow morning I will be officially going on holiday. and at approximately 4pm tomorrow afternoon I will probably be in a hospital bed with a broken leg.

I am going snowboarding. For the first time ever. And I'm roughly 45% excited and 65% terrified. But don't worry - I have a cool new hair do and snazzy snowboarding pants so I will look good - even if I do go down the mountain on my arse instead of a board.

I've got 2 theories about this trip and why I will no doubt fail to snowboard despite going with 2 competent boarders who's future holidays may well hinge on their girlfriends' enjoyment of this holiday and 1 practically professional snowboarder who has taught them everything they know...

1) I'm getting on a bit now. When I was young I was more fearless about taking risks and stuff...
can I jump over that wall? It's a bit high, ah well I'll try and see - no I couldn't...muuuuuuuuuuuuummm!!!

My partner in learner snowboarding has the happy advantage of being 10 years younger than me and I think she may pick it up much more easily...while I have far too much awareness of my body and what feels natural and what doesn't. My niece taught me some trampoline tricks a few years ago - she'd bounce so high in the air and do all manner of tricks while I could just about do a seat drop...because falling - regardless of the landing - in a seated position is completely unnatural and my body just wouldn't do it for a long time. But perseverance paid off and I suppose I should try and remember that before I throw a snowbaord at my boyfriend and strop off towards the nearest spa!

But it's unnatural isn't it? To have feet strapped onto a board in a position you would never ever stand in and to slide down a snow covered mountain with nothing to hold on one holding the seat to keep you steady. Nothing.


If we come home from the holiday with catchphrases I predict mine will be "Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh!"

2) The second reason I think I will fail at snowboarding - and this is probably more significant than the first one, is that I'm simply not cool enough to go snowboarding.
Snowboarding looks cool man! If you're on the piste in Val Thorens next week look out for me - I'll be the one reading the beginners guide to snowboarding. There's a chance that as this handy book - which my boyfriend kindly bought me for Christmas - focusses on the science of snowboarding I may have a slim chance of getting it. But realistically I fully expect to fall flat on my face once and then slope off to the nearest bar, lick my wounds and trade in my ski pass for a sauna.

Good people of Val Thorens...Don't be surprised if you see an angry looking scouser on the French Alps brandishing a book at people shouting
back off man - I'm a scientist!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Have you ever had a sex dream about someone you know? Maybe your boss or a particularly unattractive work mate, maybe your best friend or the unthinkable - your brother?

No? No, me neither!

Obviously sex dreams are never about Brad Pitt or Doctor who or Abi Titmus or whoever. They're always about someone completely unexpected, perhaps even downright inappropriate and leave you feeling a little on the dirty side once you wake up...and then horror of horrors you see the same object of your subconsious desire later that morning either at work or by chance on the train or some such place where you have no choice but to speak with them, despite feeling awkward and embarassed unable to regard him in quite the same way having recently witnessed him diving off your wardrobe twirling his underpants above his head shouting "Geronimo"...or whatever...

Well I'm sort of experiencing a similar experience this morning towards our cat Dexter. Dexter is about to turn 2 and he's starting to get a bit friendlier than he used to be, although he's still mostly independent and doesn't want to sit on any knees, he is starting to sleep near us. And he's become more playful. So in an unusual display of friendliness I was play fighting with Dexter when he decided he liked me enough to lean against me and have a bath - specifically bathing his bum, Yeah my cat decided he was going to lick his arse right in my face. Which in hindsight I realise was wierd enough (although not as uncomfortable as the time Tilly Moggins climbed on my shoulder, draped her tail across my head and farted in my face) but then after a while - his attention to detail in the area of bottom hygiene is really quite remarkable - I notice what looked like a lump or a spot poking through his fur. My immediate reaction was alarm, but as I was trying to get a better look at it I was horrified to realise something that I hadn't realised before that point...

My cat has got a willy!

"Well of course he has" I hear you say and indeed that is exactly the sentence my boyfriend used when I recounted the story a little while later in the manner of someone confessing to doing something I shouldn't... although sort of unsure whether I've been the victim of some kind of sexual harassment or if I've become some kind of wierd peeping tom type sex offender. (Especially worrying given how long I spent trying to look at it when I innocently believed it was a potential medical emergency)

But it shocked me.

Although what should shock me is the fact that it shocked me at all.

I'm not sure why it surprised me so much although I should perhaps mention that I've always somehow regarded all cats as being female...feline/female, the words are so similar. Cats are often regarded as being similar to women,while dogs are referred to as man's best friend.

Anyway - I've been feeling strangely awkward around my cat Dexter today. Although that might be because he keeps winking at me...If he lights up a cigarette I'm locking my bedroom door at night!!

Monday, 24 January 2011

A game of 2 sexes

It was so refreshing to see a female official during Liverpool's visit to Wolves on Saturday afternoon. If nothing else it proves that women certainly can and do understand the off-side rule.

I think it's fantastic that women are being acknowledged, not only as being genuine supporters of the game but taken seriously and given the same chances to make a career out of the sport.

So I was pretty gutted when I heard the news today about the dinosaurs at Sky - Andy Gray and Richard Keys...and I was planning a good old rant but my good pal has beaten me to it in a far more eloquent manner than I could hope to match:

So instead I'd like to make a special mention of Kenny Daglish and his daughter Kelly for their amusing responses to the story.

Kenny Dalglish sat down for a press conference and as a female reporter took her position at the front Kenny turned to the Sky reporters next to her and said "Are you boys alright with her being here?" which was met by the correct proportions of shame on the part of the Sky reporters and laughter by everyone else.

Following that Kelly tweeted a sarcastic comment on her twitter account claiming she was exhausted from learning about the off-side rule and needed to buy some shoes to recover!

If Andy Gray and Richard Keys imagine for even a second that the daughters of some of the most successful sportsmen in the country don't understand the rules of the game then they really should be ashamed of themselves.

It is really quite remarkable that Gray & Keys can be so narrowminded and shortsighted when amongst their own peers there are successful, popular and knowledgeable female reporters who have grown up living and breathing football in much the same way as I would imagine any female referee/lineswoman would.

Wind up the clock boys, it's 2011. You pair of old fashioned sexist fools.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Believe it or not...

As a rule I've always avoided the topic of religion. I've always had the vague attittude that people should be allowed to believe what they choose to believe and we shouldn't judge them for it. But I've always felt slightly uncomfortable with religious conversations because I've never been quite sure what I believe myself and somehow always felt a little bit like I was on the opposing side of a one person argument.

I suppose I've been agnostic for years - I couldn't really see how God existed, I had that kind of discomfort whenever anyone referred to their belief in God but somehow I was a little bit too scared to admit it.

So who or what was I afraid of? God? Was I afraid to admit I don't believe in God because the God I don't believe in might smite me? That's nonsense right? Or does that mean secretly I do believe in God and I don't want to admit that either because my nearest and dearest are out and proud atheists?

Now there's a question.

Picture the scene...Liverpool are in the Champions League final, they're losing 3 -0 and it's half time and I close my eyes and whisper "Please please please let us win".

[This might be a bad example.because unless you've been in stasis for the last 6 years you'll know that Liverpool did indeed go on to win the cup and I don't believe for a second that I (along with countless other Liverpool fans) offered up a little prayer and God heard it!]

Does my little moment of pleading constitute some kind of belief of a so called higher power?

Who am I directing my plea to? Or am I just thinking aloud?

Maybe people get some comfort in believing there is a supreme being controlling everything. Maybe the world is just one big never ending game of Risk being played by a bunch of guys called Jesus, Abraham and Mohammed.

I think it's entirely feasible that these people existed, I think the stories could be urban legends passed from generation to generation getting slightly exaggerated each time until they became miracles - parting the sea, walking on water...

"yeah so I was in the bar with Jesus, and it was the end of night we were the last ones to get our supper and someone hands Jesus a bottle of water and Jesus gives him our bottle of wine. He's always sharing our stuff - Judas was fuming. Remember the time he dropped the picnic hamper and all the ants stole our bread and fish - they were everywhere, thousands of 'em!"

There's a small part of me that wishes I had something I believed in because I think there are situations when a person's faith seems to bring them great comfort. But I just find it so unrealistic to believe in something that cannot be proven, where there is no evidence. And I guess that is where I finally accept and understand what it is that I believe in.


Since Science adapts its belief according to the evidence and as there is no evidence of God we can only really believe 1 of 2 things - a) God doesn't exist or b) God has gone into hiding coz he's sick of listening to stupid prayers about football results.

Either way, we're on our own.

Except for the aliens.

Golden Goads

I must say I thought Ricky Gervais' opening speech at the Golden Globes was hilarious.

And judging by the amount of celebrities in the audience laughing equally as hard as I was the offence caused must be speculative by the media who have to turn everything into a scandal.

Even the shocked faces were covering the desire to laugh, glancing around to see if it was ok to have a chuckle...they only needed to look at Alec Baldwin who was wiping tears throughout most of the speech to be given the green light to laugh too.

Even Johnny depp appeared to raise a smile at the roasting of The Tourist.

I don't know what all the fuss is about. The second time Gervais has been asked to present the show - they knew what they were letting themselves in for.

Celebrities are so far removed from reality these days that maybe it's good to let them see themselves as they are portrayed in the media.
What? Are we supposed to believe that Robert Downey Jr is unaware that the media have reported to the world that he was in rehab? These people spend their lives courting the media, wanting to be globally recognised to the point where there's no such thing as bad publicity...

...except when it's in front of an audience of their peers.

Nice one Ricky - frankly I like you all the more now that you're not "a little fat man who's quite likeable"!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Cubital Tunnel takes its Toll

I've been suffering with a lot of pain in my right hand these last few weeks. I always blame any pain to my hand on an old injury when I was playing footy in the park in London. I got pushed over and used my arm to break my fall. It flares up regularly but more so in winter.

So I finally went to my GP today to raise the issue. The pain of late has become so bad that it MAKES ME CRY like the girl I am. It's also causing me sleepless nights and my work is suffering. Spending most of my time on a computer, using a mouse and trying to create designs and animations takes its toll on a sore aching hand.

The doctor explained to me that the Ulnar nerve that runs down the back of the arm, across the elbow joint and down into the hand can be easily injured...just leaning on an arm rest, bending it consistently past 45 degrees. The only thing he could prescribe to me was to keep my arm and wrist off the desk when i'm typing or clicking.

Have you ever tried to draw on a computer without the hand steadying support of a desk?

Well I have. And it sucks!

On the plus side, if left untreated my hand will eventually deform and turn into a claw! Yay! I can go to TV fancy dress parties as Big Bird!

Obviously I did some googling. read other people's stories of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and from tomorrow will be the proud owner of an elbow support that will stop me bending my arm past 45 degrees.

Then maybe I'll get some sleep!

I hope the guy that pushed me over ten years ago stubs his toe. Every day!

Enforced Jollity - a condition of employment?

Firstly, may I apologise for the length of time I have been away from the sofa. I moved house and now I share my sofa with a boy and 2 cats. I'm pretty sure you can guess which 2 dominate the sofa in our household.

But I have plenty to share and will indulge in a little ranting over the next few weeks.

My current full time employment is in the voluntary sector. You know that sector of work that does all kinds of good stuff in the community and doesn't make any kind of profit? That sector that has been around for hundreds of years and isn't the brain child of our new government.

All these funding cuts and giving the power to the community instead of central government sounds great in theory, but actually, cuts to local government funding means cuts to the funding the third sector receive from their local council resulting in masses of redundancies and a loss of valuable and much needed community projects in the area.

I'm not being funny right...but how much did our government actually spend on those fireworks for New Years Eve? And really? Were they necessary?
It's alright love, I may be unemployed now but at least we saw some lovely sparklers on the TV.

So faced with inpending unemployment a few of us decided that as the shape of our organisation will be completely different from April, we should have a party. Because there's only so many leaving drinks we can all go to!

Now I like organising stuff, so I volunteered to be one of the party planners. This is my vision for the party:
We hire a venue - that's a must, there'll be about 100 of us and just piling into the pub is a bit unrealistic.
The venue will have a DJ and a bar - they're both very important - well the bar is anyway!
We all bring a plate of food to share and create a makeshift buffet - coz we've got no funding for this...
we all turn up on the night, get drunk, chat to our work mates who we may never see again, and maybe cut a few shapes on the dancefloor.

Being of sound mind and having a generally good feel for the other employees of the organisaton after 4 years there I feel fairly certain that my idea for the party - simple though it may be - will be pretty much what everyone else is hoping for.

But I'm up against ideas that aim to bring joy and fun and entertainment and ice breaking and fucking enforced jollity to the occasion. If anyone tells me that at my leaving do I have to get up and perform some kind of routine rehearsed with my team then frankly, thanks but no thanks...I'll probably swerve it and go the pub with all the other normal work colleagues who spend enough of their days doing bloody ice breakers, networking and talking to people they don't know. If I don't know someone in my company on the day I am leaving - I'm not going to spend my farewell party talking to them when I could be spending it with the work mates I actually give a shit about.

I mean ok maybe it would be sort of funny to see the various reactions of people when they turn up to have a few scoops and find themselved ushered into a group of strangers to play spin the bottle, but really - We're not organising a show, we're not putting on an event. We just want to go and get pissed with some people we've grown to care about and may never see again. Now what is so hard to plan about that??