Games people play

Pandora Melly talks to a high-speed Sandy Gall
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Sandy Gall, 69, writer/broadcaster

I play golf, which is not very exciting. Would you like to hear about the Cresta Run instead? It's a tobogganing run at St Moritz, invented by the British in the late 1890s. They went to Switzerland for their health - very often as a cure for tuberculosis - and to amuse themselves they took up tobogganing. Then someone had the idea of building a track out of snow and ice, which became the Cresta Run. It's rebuilt every winter, half-a-mile long with lots of curves and corners, down which the cream of British youth hurl themselves. Winston Churchill was the youngest rider ever - at 14, which is strictly against the rules.

It's a very serious business: the Cresta Run has killed five people. One man fell out at a big bend called "The Shuttlecock" and another hit a railway sleeper which had been left across the run instead of being put across the road to stop the traffic. I only mention this because the good boys are travelling very fast: about 70 miles an hour towards the bottom of the run.

You lie on a toboggan and go down head first, steering by leaning into the corners. I'm a complete novice and very bad at it, but I used to toboggan in Scotland as a boy. I'd heard about the Cresta Run and eventually made two documentaries about it.

I thought I'd have a go when we'd finished filming. We all went down, and I am ashamed to say that my cameraman and sound-recordist were much faster than me. Later, in the club-house, the announcer said: "Sandy Gall's time was so-and-so", and they told me that I was the slowest man since Errol Flynn. And he had stopped to light a cigarette.

Traditionally pre-Cresta courage may be obtained by mixing a chilled can of Campbell's Consomme (46p) with a large slug of Red Stolichnaya vodka (pounds 12.19 from Oddbins). Experiment with proportions until audacity/vision/ balance are at optimal levels.

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