Tragedy has struck. The treasured prize/ forfeit of the fabled ding-a-ling that is handed out at the end of each day has been broken. The adored award presented for epic stupidity, fantastic falls and occasionally acts of good has had its miniature cow bell separated from the holy lanyard which carries it. In the 24 hours that it was placed in the annoying and incompetent hands of a young boy, he managed to pull the sacred ding from its supporting ling. This act of blasphemy meant that at the evening awards instead of holding a gracefully flowing lanyard, camply clutched between my index finger and thumb I waved around a lonely cow bell. As tempted as I was to return it to its destroyer I couldn’t trust him to protect it for a day and had to hand it over to another of his worthy successors.
I hadn’t even finished breakfast before I had a contender. Working with kids you are constantly reminded that a child’s mind is a wondrous and imaginative thing that often produces moments of spectacular splendour and equally, moments of inexplicable insanity. Surely, nothing noteworthy would happen during the first meal of the day. Surely, the simple intake of bread, jam and orange juice couldn’t go wrong. But a kids mind is a wondrous and imaginative thing. One girl at the table, quietly enjoying her jam on toast and her orange juice, decided that she liked all three, and that surely she’d like all three together. It was then that I witnessed said girl dip said bread into said juice before instantly regretting her decision as her face slowly shrivelled. That wasn’t the only odd dietary anomaly of the day.
In the afternoon, as the kids grew tired we stopped for a quick break on the side of the slope. After drinking a some water, eating a chocolate bar and checking my phone I looked around to gaze upon six teenagers sticking their faces into the snow and chewing on snowballs trying to eat the stuff they ski on. Educated, fairly developed fourteen and fifteen year olds just sat there licking snow like dogs getting water from a bowl. Having talked to them I had the understanding that these kids were fairly normal and capable but there they were face down on the side of the mountain mindlessly grazing on snow. A fairly suitable contender for a prize that is a cowbell.
In terms of skiing, today was an amazing day. Having had heaps of snow over the last few days, today the skies cleared and sun shone across the mountain. The pistes were immaculate and great for teaching on and my group made a great improvement and by the end of the day we were cruising down a steep black without a problem. What was a problem, was going up. The only combination worse than jam on toast in orange juice, is my group of skiers and T-bars. A T bar is a two person lift in the shape of a T where each person puts a section of the T behind their butt which then drags them up. Admittedly, this is my least favourite kind of lift as you can’t sit down and you have to share it with a kid who can’t keep his skis from cutting over yours. Although my group are fairly good skiers and got a brief explanation of this simple contraption, it was a disaster. The first two up tried to hold the T vertically with the part of the seat reserved for bums being dead upright which glided straight between them, dragging one persistent student a few metres before they let go. The next attempt one kid simply slipped off the side and the one after that wasn’t paying attention as the bar swung around behind them and hit them in the head. Eventually, with the assistance of a disgruntled lift operator they all made it on. Just as we got to the end, the lift stopped signalling someone had a nightmare getting off. Despite the group being a little spread out, instantly I knew that the stoppage was down to one the kids in my care. After a few moments of starting and stopping I eventually climbed over the final hill to be greeted with the incredible sight of one of the girls stood on top of the ramp past the exit carrying her bag back down to her skis at the disembarking area. This ramp is a huge incline, big enough to ski under to get on the piste and it’s blatantly obvious that you get off before it. What had happened, the giggling ensemble of other kids informed me, was that as this girl had tried to get off, she had pushed the bar through her bag catching it on the lift and as she went to get off, the bag kept going. I can picture her cluelessly staring up at it as it sailed into the air and up the mountain without a clue what to do. This is when the lift ground to a halt, allowing her to ascend the steep side and reclaim her rucksack. It was this classic mistake that won her the small, lanyardless bell to look after for the next day.