I will be locked in a nylon lined concrete bunker with CFO, spawn AND mamie and papy. In a ski resort. I have mentioned some of my more delighful skiing adventures before. This trip takes place in peak French holiday season, when the Parisians have sharpened their ski poles to a fearsome point and are out to trample the rest of France to death. Needless to say, there is no WiFi connection in this bunker, which will look like it was set in amber in 1976. Previous trips suggest that furniture will be brown and orange, and the appartment will be bathed in an otherworldly glow of static electricity from all the man-made fibres. Someone has to sleep in what is described as an "alcove". I suspect "someone" will be me and the CFO. I can barely imagine the scenes of devastation.
Firstly, mamie has volunteered to cook. Long time readers may recall that mamie's cooking is focussed around two poles: tinned goods, and the mighty cocotte minute (pressure cooker) in which any substance can be reduced to mysterious, grey, anti-matter in minutes. This is the woman who brought these:
to Brussels. Need I say more? Mamie was an early convert to the convenience food movement in the 1970s, and the CFO was brought up on a diet of tinned ravioli, tinned petits pois et carottes, Knacki frankfurters and the occasional trip to Flunch. On special occasions she calls in a traiteur and then we are treated to enormous mystery proteins in aspic, or the infamous pie with twenty charred quail skulls poking up through the pastry.
Recent additions to the repertoire have included the 'couscous apple tart' (no, that granular stuff you used wasn't sugar, Jacqueline) and lots of potage. Potage is the dregs of the fridge thrown in the mighty cocotte, with water and no seasoning. One might find, for instance, a few potatoes, some tuna, half a tomato, a head of lettuce and a lone frankfurter. The potage is then served with cream, because the rules of Normandy require that every foodstuff be pimped up with gratuitous dairy produce. Even if she weren't such an, ahem, individual cook, I am scared of baguettes and their razor sharp shards of crust that stick in your palate. And cheeses. Cheeses, which must be preserved in optimum conditions, such as, perhaps, sitting on the table of the coin salon, rather than out on the balcony freezing themselves into Camembert popsicles as I would prefer. The bio-hazards ripen gradually over the week, allowing the CFO and les beaux-parents to say mysteriously Norman things like "boudou, il est fait celui là!" (approximately, 'this cheese is lively enough to be running Belgium').
Secondly, skiing. Blah. I don't exactly hate skiing, but I do find it quite boring after a couple of hours. Boring and cold and all too reminiscent of the many cruelties visited on me by the Bearded One in my childhood on desolate mountainsides. Except even colder, whiter, and surrounded by cruel, psychotic teenage boys intent on death. It used to be fun when we had money and only one very small portable child, and could stay in Les Fermes de Marie, and take stealthy pictures of Cliff Richard and Mike Read sharing a hot tub (TRUE STORY - they even asked the CFO to take their picture!). Now we're consigned to credit crunchy concrete doom and endless queueing. I blame Léon Blum and the Front Populaire. All that insistence on the French getting out and taking possession of the countryside and discovering leisure and so on. All very well in theory but did he ever have to queue for a chair lift with eighty thousand snowboarding teenagers? No. Send me back down the Camembert mines please.
I predict, confidently, that Lashes will decide he hates it after the first morning, as he did last time. I am praying to be proved wrong, but I bet this is how it goes. Thereafter, each day will be a catalogue of fighting and sulking; exasperation from CFO, wailing from Lashes, hopeless attempts to mediate, drawing the wrath of both camps, by me. Fingers should enjoy, but presumably once he sees his brother creating dramatic capital out of hating it, he will decide to hate it too.
Thirdly, the clothes. Woe! I am not opposed to comfort or warmth. They are good things as my love of hot water bottles and pyjamas will testify. But in skiing clothes I look like a hunchbacked oompah loompah. A scared, hunchbacked, oompah loompah, careering down a hill with all the grace of an epileptic dog and whimpering. This is emphatically Not A Good Look. I will ensure there are pictures to prove this to you.
I know. I am a whiny, miserable cow. Poor me, going on holiday! You are now permitted to kick me long and hard (or you could just allow the Parisians to do their worst next week. They are very talented). Tomorrow I will regale you with tales of sunshine and roses and perfect, magical rainbows.