Friday, January 9, 2009

For want of a zip . . .

Enneagram test . . . ?
What’s an Enneagram? I’ll do as you suggest and put it into Google, but I should tell you here and now that I’m not too keen on tests!Link

I take it all back . . . that was fun! Because there are no clear ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers you can relax and be completely honest. I see that I come into Category Two bordering on Category Five. Although I’m far from certain what that means.
Why did you think I’d be Category Seven? According to this test, that means that’d I’d be 'adventurous' and, apart from a degree of adventurousness over grammar and spelling, I don’t think that the word ‘adventurous’ can truthfully be applied to me.

There was only once in my life, that I can remember, when . . . perhaps . . .
Can you feel a story coming on? You’re right . . . the story of the faulty zip!

My grandmother was Swiss. My mother, as a child, made frequent family visits to see relatives in Geneva. It was decided that, to strengthen this link, I should spend part of my schooling in Switzerland. The school chosen was way up in the mountains. Mother, whose knowledge of Switzerland was confined to the smart apartments and formal gardens of Geneva, had no knowledge of the mountains. But why let lack of knowledge limit your judgement? In deciding what to purchase for my life in the mountains, mother, knowing nothing of ski clothes, decided that a pair of smart maroon corduroy trousers would look perfectly suitable on the snowy slopes.

Thus is was that I arrived at my new school with corduroy trousers for skiing, whereas all my fellow students had sturdy, waterproof ski pants. Not being naturally athletic, I quickly discovered that in the early days of skiing an inordinate amount of time is spent either on your backside or on your knees. Equally quickly, I learned that maroon corduroy trousers mop up water like a dishcloth. The only solution was to pin a bath-hat inside the trousers so as to form a protective cover at seat level. This I did, securing the bath-hat with safety pins. In this fashion, with trousers tucked into thick socks and a bulging backside, I learned to ski.

To my surprise, I loved skiing. I wasn’t good at it, merely mediocre, but the sheer exhileration of speeding through the frosty mountain air, the almost reverant joy of looking down from a high altitude on untouched snowy slopes . . . I was converted. No matter that I didn’t take part in competetive skiing, just to relish the invigorating experience was more than enough for me.

But this peaceful pleasure was to end in competitive drama. As the days lengthened and the spring approached, the school told us that a day of races would be held to conclude the skiing season. There was no way out. I was being forced to participate. Meandering around on the less public slopes I had been perfectly happy in my maroon trousers, but there was no way that I could submit them to the public scrutiny of a race. Just for this one occasion I would need to borrow a pair of orthodox ski pants. This I did . . . a fellow pupil had two pairs. Clad in unfamiliar dark green pants, I was ready to play a totally inconspicuous part.

It was my plan to stay in a group well at the back. No-one would notice me, all eyes would be on the front-runners, and any lack of expertise in my skiing technique would be hidden from public view. We set off from the top of the mountain. Sticking to my plans, I lingered contentedly in the rear. But what was this . . . to my horror, I suddenly realised that the zip in my borrowed ski pants was coming undone. Perhaps there’d been a button at the top that I’d failed to notice . . . perhaps it was a faulty zip . . . whatever the reason, it was fast opening and, should I remain where I was at the back of the field, there was no doubt that I would reach the winning post with my borrowed ski pants unceremoniously and conspicuously around my ankles!

It was a choice between fame or shame . .. for the first and only time in my life, I plumped for the excitement of sporting competition! Down the mountain I shot . . . down my hips crept the traitorous ski pants! But, as I sped over the finishing line, the pants were still in place . . . whilst I, a total outsider, was the proud, but unexpected, winner of a Bronze Medal!

Somewhere, in the back of a drawer or lost in a cupboard, an old Bronze Medal still tells that story. But, as I’m sure you’ll agree . . . I’m not really entitled to Category Seven in the Enneagram Test!