Going a little bit off piste

Today started with breakfast with a man J had worked with in India.  He’s borrowing our appartement in the French Alps. (Oooh, aren’t we posh?! Well yes, in some ways.  Ho hum.  Now that really is an issue I need to deal with here some time.)  Anyway, it’s great to think it’s going to get a bit of use this summer and it was lovely to have coffee and remember good times, both summer walking times and winter skiing times, that we’ve spent there over the years.  Hence the “off piste” phrase I suspect.

However the real off piste line I’m taking here is that I’m still, in 2016 stuck in a time warp that has now locked me for at least 36 hours south-west of Blois … and I’m leaving me there for another day, ooh, given that tomorrow is a work trip up and down to Leicester, I suspect I will leave me stuck there for another at least.

OK, so let’s leave 2016 and the pelerinage in that suspended state because today has been another odd day with reminders galore of my own history.  That started with meeting X and our reminiscences about times in the Alps but also the pleasure of hearing he and J discussing their recent experiences in India. After that, I soaked some very welcome sun while sawing up old fence posts that have been littering our tiny back garden here for a month or two since the fence was replaced … then I joined J & daughter in the continuing mammoth task that has dominated the last two days: winnowing our books while relocating them.  All three of us have a powerful love of books and so this was a pretty massive effort which yesterday mostly involved J & I deciding what of our surfeit of fiction could go, and organising the rest onto the new shelves in our “den”.  Today was the turn of the non-fiction so for both of us it was another strange time line experience.  One time line is the one in which you find yourselves revisiting when you bought the books, before or after we met. The other time line is back to when the books were written, and as we both believe the history of any field is a vital part of that field, that took us back to at times to the 19th Century, and, finding my copy of Burton’s Anatomy of melancholy, back to the 17th.  (No, I confess I haven’t managed to read it: that’s the whole thing about fighting your way through the thickets of books: with notable exceptions, they’re in “keep or go” question precisely because zero, one but so rarely two of us have read them.)

It’s been a funny process and a lot of books have gone to into the big green plastic recycling bin.  Mostly those have been the ones that have aged in that modern way in which they have long been superceded probably by more recent editions of the same book.  Others are stacked up for redistribution with people to be asked if they want any and to be offered to J’s academic employer (she’s much more sanguine that they’ll want them than I am!)  Some of the fiction, and not entirely the children’s fiction, will go to India to the schools run by the person J & X met there.  Slowly, a much more organised house, that looks a bit less like a car boot sale, emerges.  Boy it’s hard work.  And tomorrow J & I take trains off to other parts of the UK and all will this domestic work will become another victim of the pause button.

Enough!  It’s tomorrow (OK, a bit of artistic licene there: I’m not actually as temporally challenged as that would suggest).  Early departures for J & daughter so early up for me too.  I’ll come back to Hokusai tomorrow.  (Oh didn’t I mention him earlier?  Sorry, that’s the sort of thing that happens when you go off piste.)

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3 thoughts on “Going a little bit off piste”

  1. All very interesting. What does ‘piste’ mean? (and I’m not taking the piste. There, I said it).

  2. Someone had to say it!!! I did think I might be going linguistically off piste with “off piste”. In case you weren’t just getting the pun in there, it’s a skiing term that I think has taken up a rather wider currency but probably not really very wide. Piste is the snow that is bashed smooth every or most nights in the ski season to create a safe and not too difficult run, and to keep the run to its marked level of difficulty. In Europe that’s green, blue, red and black in ascending level of challenge. My recollection is that North American’s add single diamond and double diamond blacks to that list and that a diamond means that you will have to go over a jump somewhere on the run, i.e. you will be airborn. I think a double diamond black means you will have quite a drop under your skiis when you are airborn. As I’ve never skied in the USA, and only on green/blue for one day in Canada, I could be very wrong there.

    Now puns, or “Daddy jokes” as they are known in our family and, I think, much more widely at least in the UK. Now that’s a topic. Daughter shares a weakness for them and we almost compete for who can make the worst and giggle most. We then sing out in unison “At least we’re cheap to run”. You must come and join in some punning fun next time you’re in the UK Greg!

  3. One of my favourite Simon Drew mugs (why has no one photographed it for google?) was of a skiing cleric: Zadok the Piste.

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