I'm in the French Alps, skiing in a small British village called Val d'Isère. I suppose that technically it's French but you wouldn't know it. The place is packed with Ruperts and Tobys teaching their broods to ski so that they might better be able to network once they get their first job in banking. French is spoken here, but only if absolutely necessary and is definitely frowned upon.
Stacey and I decided that our kids should learn to snowboard, as opposed to skiing, like us. This decision was mainly based around the different types of boots. Snowboarders have boots that are as comfortable as Uggs, whereas we skiers still have to squeeze our feet into medieval torture machines. I do find it astonishing that we can put a man on the moon but still can't invent comfortable ski boots. Perhaps designers can hold off on the unnecessary, but inevitable, iPhone 6 and concentrate on an iBoot?
Regular readers will know that I was very early on the "onesie" fashion curve, and I have taken this to the slopes by sporting a very snazzy one-piece ski suit. For some reason that I have yet to fathom, the suit has a Velcro patch on the front with the word "Terry" on it. This is not the maker's name, but it does mean that, to the amusement of my family, my "mountain" name is now Terry.
Last week, I slipped away from the pack and was skiing on my own when I witnessed a woman do a spectacular wipeout. She lost both skis and went head over heels down the mountain, unable to stop herself for about 200 yards. She was screaming in agony when she finally came to rest and, as I was quite near her, I skied over and did what I could. She had hurt her back, and so I tried to make sure that she didn't move as I waved down a passing ski instructor and asked him to radio for assistance.
The injured woman was English and spoke no French so she used me for translation purposes. After a while she kept thanking me and calling me "Terry". I didn't think that this was the time to explain that this was not my name so I rolled with it. I had a balaclava on, and was loath to take this off lest she happen to recognise me and become ever further confused, and start to worry that she might be in some complicated hidden camera scenario.
I stayed with her for about 20 minutes, until help arrived, and she was taken down the mountain on a stretcher. Her last words were, "Thank you, Terry. I'm so grateful."
That evening, at supper, everyone was discussing the incident and joking that the woman might be an über-rich heiress (not uncommon out here) who would now be looking to thank her ski-slope assistant with a small gift of a super yacht or a place in Mustique.
They suggested that I should scan the pages of the local paper to see if someone was "looking for Terry". I imagined trying to explain that I was indeed "Terry" although not … it was too complicated, and I fear that Mustique shall never be mine. If she is reading this, however, a comfy pair of ski boots would be nice.