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Ken Fyne: Chances of me becoming a good skier are going downhill fast

Ken has never quite mastered the art of skiing.
Ken has never quite mastered the art of skiing.

Sometimes I wonder if the endless, albeit essential, emphasis on equal treatment and opportunity between sexes, races, ages and abilities has gone a bit too far.

I’m not in favour of unlikely role reversals such as the next James Bond being female, legendary legless fighter pilot Douglas Bader being played by the likes of Usain Bolt or Thomas the Tank Engine receiving a boiler transplant and becoming a steamed-up Thomasina.

Much better, I believe, for each to have role models from their own gender/ability/age/race group.

Thomas the Tank Engine has already been through a modern revamp.

My concerns were reinforced when a colleague’s friend was challenged to name Santa’s reindeer. “Prancer, Dancer, Donna and Blitzen,” they began. I had a double-take. Since when, I chuckled, did the reindeer Donner, German for “thunder”, become Donna, which is Italian for “lady”?

Perhaps future generations of children raised in these overly-indignant times will soon be singing about Ruby the Pink-nosed Reindeer.

We actually had occasion to be in the company of some lovely young children this past week and they created endless joy and hilarity as their barely contained excitement about Santa’s approaching arrival spilled over into some memorable malapropisms.

One wee four-year-old was singing her heart out recounting the Twelve Days of Christmas. She was almost word-perfect, with the small exception of inadvertently replacing the partridge in a pear tree with a parsnip. “And a parsnip in a pear tree…” will likely become the norm for us from now on.

And a parsnip in a pear tree…

Another youngster, during a verse of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, chanted: “Oh, bring us some piggy pudding”. No award from festive figgy-lovers for that carnivorous confusion, I reckon.

It’s been hard while working this week not to have one leisure eye on the weather wondering if brutal Barra, following hard on the heels of appalling Arwen, would bring some suitably skiable snow to our marvellous mountains. It was painful last year seeing some of the best snow for years go to waste due to Covid lockdowns.

I should add at this stage that I am to skiing what Ugo Monye was to Strictly; enthusiastic but lacking in terpsichorean grace and expertise.

Mrs F is a beautiful skier, though. It’s hardly surprising. I was raised on the east coast where two planks of wood would be used to mend a fence or boat. She was raised in the Highlands where the same two planks would invariably be used as skis.

I’ve often tried to ski with her and the nearest I ever get is going upwards beside her on a ski-tow. When she turns at the top and heads downwards again, all I ever see is the snow flying from her skis as she disappears into the distance.

Mrs F is a graceful skier, unlike Ken.

There’s a definite gender difference in our skiing; she’s brilliant, I’m rubbish. One thing I can do faster than her though is, euphemistically, spend a penny. The challenges for females to extricate themselves from figure-hugging one-piece ski suits for that purpose are considerably greater than for me. For that, I’m extremely grateful to be male.

I’m also thankful I didn’t attempt the feat of one woman who decided to avoid the trek to the ski centre for some light relief and opted instead just to squat behind a rock in the swirling mist. She might have got away with it had she not left her skis on.

At a particularly inopportune moment, with gathering pace and increasing horror, she started to slide from her hiding place, traversing the piste, if you’ll pardon the expression, in a position that received no marks for technical expertise or artistic impression.

With hopes growing of a decent winter-sports season ahead, the Cairngorm Mountain ski area has a new permanent chief executive. Former interim CEO Susan Smith faces a big job to reverse the recent downhill trends of Covid closures, uncertain weather and the failed mountain railway fiasco, but she deserves success as the resort enters its 61st year.

After the parsnips in pear trees and piggy puddings are all done and devoured, hopefully I’ll be up there trying again, and most likely failing again, to be a downhill equal of Mrs F. That’s a monumentally uphill task.

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