Some things never change


At the tail end of 2016, my boyfriend and I, as many do on the cusp of a new year, created a list of things we'd like to do or achieve in 2017. We refer to them rather pretentiously as 'goals' as opposed to 'resolutions', because to us a goal feels more like a step in a positive direction, and a resolution seems like a passive-agressive criticism of the habits which, frankly, I am quite happy living with. Eat less cake? Erm, no. I like eating it, thanks. Eat more broccoli? Now, that sounds like a more achievable aim and will have no direct impact on the quantity of cake I consume - brilliant!  
One of the things on my 'goals' list this year was to learn to ski. Despite growing up in a middle class family, my parents were more the type to enjoy two week vacations in the sun doing sweet fuck all, than a week in the French Alps spending triple what you'd pay for a beer in Kefalonia. I respect them for their honesty and commitment to cheap beer, to be honest, I think they are both values I've inherited from them. Consequently, I've never learnt to ski and have always felt the pang of jealousy towards friends on their jaunts to the slopes, immersed in their lovely overpriced beers, fondue, trendy salopettes, fondue (did I mention that?) - a painfully middle-class problem, but one I felt nonetheless. When I got together with my boyfriend and found out he'd skied throughout his childhood for about 15 years, I thought to myself 'Result! Finally someone who'll be patient enough to go on a ski holiday with me while I fumble my way down a blue run'. Unfortunately my enthusiasm was met with a retort that he'd only come with me if I got some lessons in the UK first. Harrumph. He promptly booked me my first lesson as a Christmas present and four months into 2017, I've just done my second lesson and am onto level three. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks, eh?
Learning a new sport or hobby as an adult is a funny old thing. You're so used to new experiences as a child, and it's a proven fact that you pick up things much quicker than you do in later life. Not to mention the fearlessness children have that seems to completely dissipate past the age of 18 - basically, an adult ski class is a different kettle of fish to the tiny tots whizzing down the slope like they've been at it for years (in some cases, they've probably done it since they started walking). 
There are a number of things about adult beginner group lessons that differ from kids; one being the disparate age gap between the oldest and youngest members of the group, which can range from 18 up to men and women in their forties and fifties. There's a pleasant sense of cheering each other on however. because you're safe in the common knowledge that you're all a bit old to be learning a new sport so any soup├žon of progress is worth shouting about. Have you ever tried getting back up after falling on your arse while your feet are clipped into a pair of weighty ski boots? That deserves as big a pat on the back as any.
That said, it also struck me how little the group lesson environment has moved on since my childhood, unnervingly so. You expect, with an increase in age, that an increase in maturity naturally follows, but the same old pupil-to-pupil dynamics pervade. Can't remember what I mean? Let me jog your memory. At the beginning of my second session, our instructor had all ten of us in the class line up next to each other, side stepping up the slope to then ski down one by one, moving upwards as one person skis down and joins the bottom of the line, and so on. As a child, there was always one irritating twerp that struggled so much with waiting their turn in this situation that, unlucky for the poor sod standing next to them, they'd edge as absolutely close as possible to the one in front of them so to get to their turn quicker, oblivious to the fact doing this makes absolutely no difference to the rate at which one gets a turn. In my class, I made the mistake of standing in front of a lanky bloke in his late thirties, who had clearly come only to learn to ski and had no interest in any of the pleasantries the rest of the group shared - 'Have you ever skied before then?', 'Have you got a holiday booked?' etc. All this chap wanted to do was get as much slope time as humanly possible, and much like the kid who's desperate for it to be their turn quicker, he made it his personal aim to edge as close to me as possible for the entirety of the session. I know he wasn't being a perv, before you ask, because the contact he insisted on up the slope was more hip to hip as opposed to crotch to arse, and I'd hope he would have at least uttered a syllable to me if he really wanted to crack on. It didn't stop there - as the session went on, he curved in around the side, tried to edge in on the queue for the lift, and in an equally childish response, I refused let the twat in because it irrationally pissed me off and I'm a stickler for the rules. Anyone who disrespects the sacred British queue is tantamount to Donald Trump or Piers Morgan in my opinion. 
The level two class involves some pretty basic skiing; about 30% of it is spent recapping the snow plough, and the rest is primarily dedicated to getting you confidently turning both left and right on a baby slope. It's a hideous waste of money to turn up to class where you can already do all of the things the class teaches you, but there's always one that can't put a price on pride. We all slid down with as much control as possible, trying to successfully manoeuvre round the obstacles our instructor set for us, cheering on every run which didn't end in a fall on your backside or careering into the safety barriers. But Lanky Bloke, not content with embodying the personal space-invader/queue-disrespecter of my childhood, also took on the good old fashioned show off too. He glided down the snow with infuriating ease and a smug nonchalance - the prick could clearly have been in the class above but would rather be the best in level two than struggle through level three with a bruised arse and equally bruised ego. I remember very clearly thinking when I was younger that adults were immune from the show offs that you're surrounded by as a kid, but the older I get, the more I realise that adults really are just overgrown children disguised by the social decorum instilled in us by our parents. But hey, if a dedication to the sanctity of a queue makes me childish, then I'll take immaturity over being a grown up any day. 


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