Neutered by technology

.facebook_1422467302032I have been in the south of France for a few days. Skiing. Poor me, eh? This was a long arranged  dad’s and daughters trip (the inappropriately named ‘Double Dees’, using a friend’s house just outside Bourg St Martin. We skied at Val d’Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs and Villaroger. The snow wasn’t at all bad, the wind slight (except on the last day when it was cold enough to freeze the knockers off a brass monkey (for those who don’t know the origin of that wonderful expression – which gives us British the short expression ‘it’s brassy today’ – I’ll let the Archaeologist explain in a comment because if I try he’ll only correct me anyway), the crowds after the weekend thin(ish) and the pistes just the right side of crunchy. One or two were a little too artificial still but natural snow has begun to add to the mix and at the higher levels, above 2000 metres, it is a joy.

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the dads

 

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the daughters

 

I’m a plodding skier who wrestles the slopes with a ferocity that works up a sweat, even on the coldest days. There’s nothing graceful in my technique, it resembling something more Greco-Roman than Alpino. But I enjoy the fresh air, the unbelievable stillness of snow-saturated mountains, and especially the duffled air of pine forests snuggled in snow. Those moments when you find yourself alone, amongst a breathing marvel of nature are pure delight. The fact the world has turned monochrome is a true wonder because in my head I experience a kaleidoscope of senses – crisp breath fogging glasses, the soft pluff of snow dolloping off the branches, the crunch of a ski, the arthritic creak of Sisyphean trees burdened beyond endurance.

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one dad, one daughter

 

It is not all quiet and peaceful.

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There’s this restaurant come Hieronymus Bosch nightmare called La Folie Douche which the young misses insisted on visiting. We ‘boys’ decided to seek a coffee elsewhere. This may give you a sense of what we passed up.

I can’t complain. At 21 I’d have been there like a  shot.

And yet amongst the joy and fun and good company, a little worm gnaws at me. A worm that started in April and has infected my bloodstream in ways I hadn’t expected. Blogging. I’m an addict. And I don’t like the withdrawal symptoms: staring, hopeful that the phone will say ‘3G’, waiting for a download at speeds last experienced when King Arthur ruled, attempting comments that are eaten by the tyranny of ‘no service’. I was unblogged from Saturday to today and it hurt. Maybe this lack of wifi and a decent signal is just another manifestation of the Anglo-French rivalries that have dogged we two neighbours down the centuries: since William was a conqueror; since French became the posh language of aristocratic Brits and English the language of the common people; since Agincourt and Waterloo; since Rosbeefs and Froggies; since we learnt to cook better than them. An English iPad is automatically barred perhaps?

I’m pathetic. The Vet accused me of being ‘the worst kind of teenager, glued to my phone’ and the sad truth is she is right. We baby boomers have spent their future, swamped them by being friends rather than parents, absorbed their music into our mainstream and annexed their social media. Facebook is no longer of interest to the 20 somethings, they use Whatsapp groups rather than post about their lives or Instagram for pictures. Soon enough we will suck those into our orbit. And here’s me, part of the problem, not the solution.

So I’ve not posted for five days. It has been HARD.   My name is Geoff and I haven’t blogged for five days. Get a life. Gradually as the break passed, my phone stayed shut and my iPad reverted to being my Kindle as I read more. I coped. But it hasn’t broken me of the habit. I’m not sure I mind much though it has given me a little perspective on it. I know, because it seems my family have noticed, that I must be more disciplined about my blogging as I am about a lot of other aspects of my life. Less has to be more, not so much in writing and posting but in reading and commenting. I’ll try. I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

Perhaps I’ll end on a different note. In the UK and especially these soft southern parts, we have little snow and rarely are the falls sufficient to coat the ground and stop the traffic. Boston it is not (sorry you on the east coast of the US; it sounds like a nightmare). But when the dump is big enough and London grinds to a halt; when the snow is white and fresh and not the dirty slush that fills your boots with a freezing gloop; when the world is new and crisp and small children and dogs tell you all you need to know by their reactions to this new wonder, that’s when this poet’s heart soars and he pens a pean of praise to the most magical Land of Frozen Water that we are ever likely to experience. This was written a while back but the sentiments old true today

Snow

 

I wake to a muffled world

where the curtains shine with a sepia tint.

Somewhere, I hear a faint rustle of ticker tape,

falling in drifts.

It is eerily quiet as I peek out

half knowing the reason.

A magician, up all night,

has covered the garden,

deadening the air with nature’s Kapok.

 

A bandy legged primate, waterproofed, uncertain

overtakes a drunk car, failing its sobriety test.

 

 

I smile with guilty pleasure. Routine

dissolves as flakes on the windows.

Any thought of work drips from the sill

To form an icicle of excuses.

 

A family of Michelin people

waddle in vague trails,

their usually confident tread undone

as the kerbs shift and slip to unexpected places.

Inappropriately shod fashionistas

curse their vanity.

I skip outside. Boots creak,

as if in need of oil.

The smothered hawthorn emerges at my touch

releasing a cloud of hissing white gas.

 

Everywhere unthreatening Hoodies

reveal glimpses of childhoods re-found.

Dogs, confused by chest deep cold white mud,

gambol and spring, demented in their ignorance,

chasing balls that dissolve on impact,

shaking their heads in surprise.

The Park confounds.

Cool mannered, indifferent teenagers

become seven again.

Armed with lightweight ordnance,

even friendly fire is welcomed.

 

Young families, paroled by snow

from school and work

play god and mould a choir of obese people,

accessorized with twigs and vegetables.

 

The enfeebled sun fights to dampen

my mood. Cars retake the streets,

leaving a grey gloop in their wake.

I slither home, uphill whichever way I go.

Unaccustomed muscles growl, frozen fingers

protest, each jab and squeeze

waking me from my illicit

dreaming, leaving my love affair with snow

in puddles on the parquet.

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About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in children, Dulwich, families, holidays, London, memoires, poems, poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Neutered by technology

  1. willowdot21 says:

    Love the photos,the descriptive words. The sentiments and the fun! The poetry is just brilliant you have it all there. Two things, well three actually I know all about the Brass Monkeys, don’t eat the yellow snow,and finally My name is willow and I am addicted to blogging. xxx 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jenni Le pard says:

    don’t worry, its only a phase… we forgive you!

    P.s. FAB trip, can’t wait for DDs 2016!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Welcome back! You’ve been skiing in places I can’t pronounce…Schweitzer is in my back yard and I grew up skiing at Kirkwood. That was pre-helmet days when ski pants looked like thick toddler bib-overalls. Looks like loads of fun, dads and daughters. Time well spent.

    Thanks for sharing the snow poem! Your poetry captures the rise and fall of the love affair with snow. I’m currently filing for divorce from my snow–irreconcilable differences.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. avalinakreska says:

    Enjoyed your post very much! Really creased up at ‘My name is Geoff and I haven’t blogged for five days.’ lol!

    The poem was very evocative too. Ice… I mean – nice…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sherri says:

    What a fab time you are having Geoff! You talk about not blogging for five days – I’ve been seriously curtailed from all things internet wise thanks to changing over to a new laptop and all the problems that brings (still can’t send on my emails and all the while trying to work on a piece for submission, deadline tomorrow…say no more…). I’m seriously behind with my blogging…and then I come over here and catch you skiing…but at least you have a better, or should I say, more enjoyable, excuse than I do. See you soon 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Sorry, Sherri, rubbing you in it as it were. I am on a bit of a roll, holiday wise just now . Hope your technological nightmares end soon We become so dependent it is beyond frustrating he they don’t work. And I hope the submission goes in on time and Im sure it’ll be a great success..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        You aren’t rubbing it in Geoff, no worries 🙂 You are enjoying yourself, and why on earth not? If you can, go for it, that’s what I say. And thanks for your kind wishes. I got my submission in on time, barely…but it stressed me out so much I couldn’t bare to get back on my laptop until today. Had my middle boy home for the weekend too which was lovely, so a nice chilling time. Hopefully I can get caught up again… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Good to have you with us. Waiting for the next thought piece from Summerzet…

        Like

  6. I’m glad you have joined me and many others in the blogging addiction room, Geoff. I was away from my blog for 5 days last week (while writing and participating a in short story challenge) and I so much missed not being on Planet Blog. But all is well now, because I am back and playing catchup with everyone.

    Thanks for sharing the skiing trip with us. I agree with you that I had been 21 I would have been at that cafe as well. I don’t know how, but I’m pleased to say that my hearing survived. Happy memories 🙂

    Great to see you back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Hugh. You know you are getting old when… you put tissues in you ears at a gig… Madonna, 1998 for me. And I wanted to go to the café but the Vet would never have spoken to me again… They did this amazing remix of the Eurythmics that said, ‘dance, boy’, but I left her to it.
      And thanks for the welcome back and welcome to the BA meetings. Good to have your wit and wisdom appearing. Though Ron has done a good job too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • He did indeed, and he blog sat for me right at the very last minute of me asking. I never thought of it before then, but he rose to the challenge and kept everyone entertained for me.

        I think you know when you are getting old when the Top 40 does not mean anything to you anymore. “Who the heck are they and just what the heck are they trying to sing?” That’s why I always tune into Tony Blackburn on Radio 2 on a Saturday afternoon when he brings back all those happy memories of me and my mates sat around a portable radio listening to the Top 40 rundown. Those were the days when a record took at least 6 weeks to get to Number one and usually stayed there for at least three or four weeks before slowly slipping out of the hit parade.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        so true; do they even have a top 40 or is it all broken down into hip hop and grunge and strip swafega; rock pop and soul, that’s all you needed. Pah. Call me old fashioned! Do you remember, damn and blast him, that J Savile had the chart show on a Sunday when he reprised two top tens in an hour followed by Fluff? Pure bliss trying to remember if the number three was Harry Nilsson or America?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I dont recall that show, but of course there was ‘Top Of The Pops’ as well, its heyday for me was back in the 1970’s when men wore makeup and platform shoes on stage and nobody cared 🙂 Of course we also had the ‘Test Card’ back in those days,which had that picture of the girl with the long hair and her blackboard right in the centre. I’m pretty sure I have a CD here somewhere titled “Test Card Music”. Yes, I know, It’s a sad state of affairs but the memories all just come flooding back.

        Anyway, welcome back to Planet Blog 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        I think Bolan was the first man I saw with eyeliner; what a star” I also met Glitter in person when he toured Bournemouth – hew as wearing makeup while fishing off the pier!! That seemed a bit weird for 1973 so I probably had a lucky escape.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Gah! You’re back for a few days and I already can’t keep up with your posts. Addict, indeed. Poor you. Looks like a terrible holiday. Well, we did get quite a blizzard, yes. It’s lovely. Just like your poem describes. Not really. We’ve got 4ft. drifts out there and all our shrubs are buried. But the kids got to go sledding the next day so there’s that. Really, as long as we don’t lose power in these nor’easters, I’m fine. It’s cool having your windows and doors sealed shut by mother nature. Mother knows best.

    Awesome photos. So glad you had a wonderful time. And that you stayed away from that club. Would have been a blast to bartend there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      4ft drifts? Really. It’s 50 years at least since we had that amount of snow in the south of England. We simply wouldn’t function. Best of luck. And I should have tried a dance o two just for old times sake

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. Drifts are that tall (some taller). We only got about 28-30 in. It’s hard to tell because it was powdery and we had those drifts then bare spots of grass. Yah, you should have popped in for at least one dance. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  8. LindaGHill says:

    Great poem, great pictures, and it sounds like you had a wonderful trip, lack of WordPress notwithstanding. I was in London at New Year 2010… was it? When there was a huge (4 inch?) snowfall. What a white-knuckler it was for my cousin who had to drive in it! Fun times. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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