I took the day off skiing in order to find a cafe with internet and catch up on my emails and load up my blogs. Apparently though little cry-baby Alex was back on the slopes and skiing around with aplomb and élan and smiling away. So my one ally of the piste (there's no ally like a piste ally) is gone. I shall have to cry alone tomorrow.
Despite not having skied I went to an apres-ski party in a bar in town with all my chalet-mates. It started at 5pm and people were sinking Jagerbombs and ordering up jugs of beer (and some were drinking straight from their jugs as if they were mammoth glasses. Ten years ago I would certainly have been joining them, but my constitution is no longer built for heavy-drinking and I decided to have an alcohol rest-day after an unusually boozy week (although I would later have a few glasses of wine). A band was playing covers and entertaining an international crowd of mainly young people (though there were a few my age and older - I thought one of the men might have been novelist Stephen King, but surely not?). It was raucous fun, but you didn't need to be drunk to enjoy it. People hung their empty beer jugs from a chandelier in the centre of the room, where they were sporadically collected by the barman, squeezing between punters in this tightly packed pub, some extroverts stood on the tables singing along to the popular hits, whilst trying to look cool and attractive. My favourite thing of the evening was watching one handsome young man enthusiastically commit to the lyrics of the song, as if this was the video for the record and he was the star of the band, only to find he had got the words wrong, then trying to pretend he hadn't fucked them up and carry on. It's a lovely human moment to witness, coolness pricked, but still trying to get away with it. He wanted people to be looking at him, but for that one moment hoped everyone had turned away to miss his minor error.
I sang along to the ones I knew and danced (as much as the space would allow me) in a more anonymous fashion. When I was young I would have avoided this kind of situation, not caring particularly for crowds or music or standing on tables trying to look cool, but this evening I enjoyed it. The band were pretty good at what they were doing. At the end of each song the lead singer would encourage everyone to take a sip of their drink and shout "Skol". The management of the of the pub must be delighted with this little trick. How many pints of lager and cocktails would be sunk each time everyone in the pub took a gulp? Enough to make that a brilliant bit of product placement that would pay for the band over the course of the night. They play here every night apparently and are hailed as rock gods and clearly love the adulation. It must be tempting for them to spend their whole lives in this one pub, adored, well-paid with free drinks and I am guessing interest from young women and men (as they prefer). Ten years could whizz by. Maybe that's not a bad thing. They certainly didn't want to leave, claiming they were doing just one more song at least five times. They milked the adulation a little bit. If they'd ended three songs earlier they would have left me feeling happy, but in the end I started to resent them and each time they said, "Do you want just one more song?" I wanted to shout, "But how can we trust you after the last time you said that? You're playing us for fools" or "to be honest it depends what the song is, can you let us know first and then maybe we'll take a vote."
As the never-ending finale approached people started hoisting young women up above the throng and sent them crowd surfing around the room, always getting perilously close to the beer jug chandelier. Sometimes the sea of supportive hands stayed strong, but sometimes there weren't enough people paying attention and the crowd-surfer would disappear as is being sucked off by quick sand. Then huge men got hoisted up and I feared that one would fall on me and crush me to death, which wasn't how I had anticipated dying on this holiday. But despite my over cautious lack of adventure it seemed that no one got chandelier-speared or had their had smashed open or crushed anyone else. It was stupid drunken fun and it wasn't until I got outside that I realised it was still only about 7pm.
A lot of booze had been sunk in that two hours but things remained very good natured. Given how much everyone had to barge through the throng to get anywhere it was remarkable that there seemed to be no aggro. But then I remembered that I wasn't in the UK and so drinking didn't lead inevitably to fighting. As if to confirm this, after dinner, we nearly got caught up in an altercation between two very drunk friends who were being held apart and shouting and swearing at each other. One of them called the other a "muppet". Of course they were English. It's the kind of thing that makes me very proud.
The rest of my friends had not been as abstinent as I had and we headed back to the chalet for more of the same. Much hilarity ensued as we decided to access our front door by the most direct route, via a four foot snow drift. As sober as I was I thought that maybe I could walk across the top of it, but I couldn't of course. Everyone else decided to copy my folly, even though I had given clear evidence that this was a bad idea and we stumbled and fell and were pushed into the drift, covering ourselves in snow and laughing. I couldn't get up and told the others to go on without me to let me die here, just five feet from the front door, but then one of them pulled me up (to be fair it was the one who had pushed me over) and I finally made it home, with snow up my sleeves and in my trousers turn ups and in my pockets.
I't seemed like things were going to grind to a halt at about 10, but then nearly everyone got a second wind and the drinking continued long into the night (long after I had nipped to bed at 12.30). But I am going against my natural inclinations and trying things that I would usually avoid and I am mainly enjoying them. It feels like it's been going on for ages, yet we're now only just halfway through. I dread to think what effect this has all had on my diet and not sure if the booze, the skiing or the cheese will kill me. But accept my destiny with good grace.