Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I have a dislike for T bars (those ski lifts where you supposedly lean back with your nearest and dearest, or sometimes the next stranger in the queue, and let the bar which fits anywhere behind your buttocks to your knees drag you up the slope). Indeed I have a phobia, which I claim to be perfectly understandable, about one T bar in particular.

Most years we spend some time in the village of Stuben in the Arlberg, from where St Anton is an easy ski. To connect to the main ski lift there are two choices, the T bar about which I have the phobia, or a moving conveyor belt. My phobia arose 4 or 5 years ago when, on attempting to detach myself from the said T bar, it caught itself under the hem of my jacket. The lift operator’s attention was clearly elsewhere at the time because I was dragged onwards, hanging from a point near my waist with legs, arms skis and poles flailing beneath me, until the lift was stopped and I fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. Hence, without question I now take the moving belt.

Last week, however, in my efforts to meet Outdoor Man at the top, I was unable to get my skis to grip the rolling rubber and, attempting to dig in with my edges, I toppled over. In so doing I not only tripped the conveyor but probably blew a fuse. Either way the belt was out of action for 10 minutes or more, causing those ahead of me to suffer the discomfort of walking to the top or else skiing back down to take the dreaded T bar.

I became the clear object of derision; the scourge of the slopes; the woman who had spoiled their day. Donned in a purple suit and my bright yellow hat, there was little I could do to blend into the white snowy background. Instead I was a solitary, scorned and ridiculed figure.

Whilst my family sought to come to my rescue, offering to ski elsewhere to avoid my dilemma, I could see from their faces the pain with which such offer was made. Outdoor Man suggested that we go for a drink but I protested inferring that I was spoiling the plans for the day and that instead I should retire to the nearest hostelry alone. It was evident from the speed with which Apprentice Man hurried to release my bindings that he thought this an excellent idea.

“I’ll have to stay with the kids, I can’t leave them,” muttered Outdoor Man apologetically. So, one little misdemeanour, one silly mistake and I was all alone, with only my transgression to dwell on.

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