Snow Story

We went to France on a charter flight and came back by private jet plane. Let me tell you how it’s done….

The snow was perfect. We stepped off the ski-lift and surveyed the slope. Deep white drifts glittered in the morning sun. I pulled down my goggles and adjusted my gloves. Beside me, the boy was bouncing with excitement.  “Just remember,” I told him, “Don’t go off the piste.”

His jacket was a bright dot crossing the run. The jump off-piste was spectacular. Eddie the Eagle would have been impressed. He sailed through the air and came down in soft snow. That championship style will serve him well when he’s learned how to land.

The snow patrol came swiftly. They swaddled him in plastic and strapped him to a sledge. Huge dark eyes peered out from a blue cocoon. X-rays showed a clean fracture. They swathed him in plaster from waist to ankle. In the recovery room, he gripped my fingers in his fist. I swiped away the tears and fixed my brightest smile.  French hospitals are clean and efficient. The boy in the next bed was great. Victor spoke English, liked football, was old enough to be Really Cool. His mother and I conspired to beat the system, purloining hot water for tea, smuggling in pizza after hours. Outside the window, the mountain peaks gleamed and faded with the drifting days.

Finally the release papers were approved. The aide-mobile had tinted windows. At Geneva airport we were whisked through diplomatic channels. No-one would have noticed if the cast was made of cocaine. On a distant run-way, our jet-plane waited: squishy seats, proper beds, discreet hardwood panelling. The boy wore shades and sipped his lemonade. The German doctor held his hand as we landed at Biggin Hill. (WWII Spitfire base: there’s hope for humanity yet).

Arriving home by ambulance, he was an instant hero. The neighbours drew lots to see who should phone first. Friends arrived bearing food and comics. Friends of friends proffered advice and help. It’s amazing what you have to do, to get a private jet plane these days. It’s wonderful how kind people can be. It’s incredible how a child can keep up his good spirits. Life gives you lemons, someone brings sirop and you make diablo fraise. ‘LifeWorks’ is about making your own story.

February 2012