As you can see from Exhibit No 1.
Two weeks ago in Lapland I knew I wouldn’t get away without one, but again I put up a fight in the ski hire shop. My partner reminded me of the first time we went skiing.
It was twenty or more years ago, again in Lapland, but on a much smaller mountainside near Rovaniemi. I’d only skied cross country since childhood, but by the end of the day, I’d got the hang of it, and was happily making my way down the nursery slope. Then a guy coming out of nowhere ran me over. He was on a pair of cross country skis and had no means of turning or stopping and was at the bottom of the hillside before I pulled myself up.
Since then I’ve been careful not to fall, or ski very fast, arguments which I now put forward to avoid the bloody headgear.
‘It’s not what you do, it’s what others can do to you. All it takes is a tip of someone else’s ski on your head…’
I conceded and put the thing on.
‘You’ll see – I won’t fall once all week!’
This comment got just a glance. Men are so infuriating sometimes. Especially when they are right.
Suddenly on our last day after lunch (with only one beer) I started falling over. Nothing serious, just a tumble of two. I put it down to having relaxed and increased my speed at the end of the holiday.
But my helmet had been bothering me all week. It was uncomfortable and I looked like a Soviet astronaut wearing it. The strap at the bottom was strangling me and as I adjusted it the thing broke. Not bothering to tell anyone (my friends held the same opinion about helmet wearing as partner and would have marched me into the ski shop to change the damned thing), I left the straps undone.
Our friends, who had the cabin in Lapland, had gone home. It was late afternoon and our last run. My partner wanted to do the ‘fun piste’ and we parted, me deciding to take one last run down my favourite piste in Ylläs. Half way down I lost control of my right ski, tried to correct myself and fell awkwardly back against the mountain. My head hit the hard surface, and my helmet flew down the piste. I lost one ski. My head hurt but my first instinct was to check if anyone had seen me fall. Cursing, I hobbled towards the other ski and helmet, managed to put myself together and gently, my legs shaking, made my way down to the lift. All I could think was what would have happened if I’d lost the helmet before I hit my head on the ground. Or if I hadn’t been wearing one at all.
Recounting the accident to the waiting partner I had to eat humble pie, or Baked Alaska.
Falling over on a skiing holiday is almost part of the fun. I wouldn’t even have thought about it, had it not been for poor Natasha Richardson’s fate. Of course we do not know if she was wearing a helmet or not.