Tales of catastophe, sex and squalor from the Alpine Underbelly...

Belle de Neige

Friday, 25 October 2013

Ski Helmets: How to look like a non-twat

16 October 2013 08:58
Belle I love you! 
Can you do another little post on ski fashion? This may sound really stupid or superficial, but are there any types of ski helmets that are just plain lame? I'm going out for my first season and want to try not to look like a giant nerd with a HUGE helmet. Merci beaucoup.

Sigh...Now that I reside in the stinky smoke, I cycle to work. The tube, as you will know from reading previous posts, makes me want to press hot coals into my eyeballs. It's nice to hop onto two wheels and cruise around, (niftily avoiding being crushed to death by errant bus drivers and cunts in Porches). In fact, I think it's the closest feeling to skiing you can find without snow. My ride takes me through Hyde Park where it has recently become the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness. I get that buzz of approaching-season-excitement. Then I realise - fuck - I appear to have signed up to stay in this shit hole for the entire winter. That rather takes the shine off the Autumn splendiferousness. So today, I am going to console myself with a rant about ski helmets and I have a handy segway, here, in the guise of the ski helmet's geeky cousin. The cycle helmet.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is in fact impossible to look good in a cycle helmet. Even Wiggo can't manage it and lord knows that man's got a cool yellow lid and some sinewy sex appeal, (particularly if you're into tall, gangly, Richard E Grant types, which I am.)

Ski helmets on the other hand, are fucking awesomely cool. And therefore, there is no excuse to go out on the slopes looking like a complete goon and / or as if you're about to be fired out of a cannon:

You may not realise it, but it is in fact possible for everyone, yes everyone, to look good in a ski helmet.This is an opportunity open to all mankind. All it requires is a bit of thought and an iota of taste and self respect. 

By way of help, let me just give you some very basic guidelines here.

Not Cool:
Only the very biggest cunts go about on the slopes wearing something like this. Usually in groups with another dickhead sporting one of those novelty raccoon tails off the back of their helmet that makes them look like they are being squeezed out of a rodents' arse. Their friends also wear those ridiculous spiky hats with bells on. Sad. So very sad. It screams desperation. You may as well tow a flag behind you that reads: "I’m a soporific dullard trying very hard to make myself look madcap!" Don’t do it. Just no. Not only that, but novelty headgear is also likely to be cheap. And this is not going to help you when you skid on some ice and your head smacks into a rock. And to add insult to injury you’re going to look like a priapic dolt.

Not Cool:

The set up itself is not bad, but watch it with this look. Unless you can pull some pretty impressive rail tricks in an urban setting, wearing a hat underneath your helmet can just make you look like you are trying a) much too hard b) to imitate a policeman c) to audition for the changing of the guard. Really and truly, there is no good, practical reason not to just use a buff instead of cramming your hat under there. It makes your head look three feet tall and it's not a good look unless you're skiing in Norway in January, in which case you're excused.

Anti Matter


These helmets fill me with an overwhelming sense of despair and apathy. Not only because they exist, in the first place, but that there are miserable, dribbling, cretinous lumps of flesh out there who have so little self-respect as to wear them. They reek of tepid, indifference to life and anything invested with any kind of joy or style. They are a black hole of credibility. Mostly sported by the dumpy, the guileless, the harassed frumpy Nanny from New Zealand and your Mum. Steer clear.

Vents are not cool.


What are all these vents for? Yes you need a couple…but…but…I don't understand! 
Such headgear is never acceptable unless you are going to a Tron-themed revival party in the Alps.

Actually, now you mention it that's not a bad idea.

Definitely No: 

Weird futuristic, flame-shaped motifs – this is not the sixties and you are not Buck Rogers. We get it…you’re so fucking speedy you might burst into flames at any second. Also, avoid anything shiny unless you are actually called Hugo Zacchini, in which case, fill your boots, irony is the only thing that’s going to get you through life.

No Bling. 

What the fuck are you doing? You're not James Fucking Bond. And he couldn't ski anyway and had a shit set up! This is very important. No black (particularly if the rest of your clobber is also black) and no matchy-matchy.

Now, a rule of thumb. Make sure the fucking helmet is the right size. Not too big. Not too small. Take your your goggles with you to the shop when you buy it so that you don't end up with a bare-naked spam like this guy:

Two words: Head. Freeze.


 Choosing the right gear can be difficult difficult lemon difficult, so I have designated these helmets cool to give you a helping hand. Take note. And if you're crap at choosing stuff then I recommend heading for a fine establishment like The Boot Lab - a lovely, little boutique ski store where some very talented free skiers have curated some of the trendiest kit out there for you already. 

Now this.... could be the ultimate in cool:

As you can see, this geezer is so cool that he's actually breaking quite a few of the rules  here. Dodgy florid patterns, a peak...and it's the same shape as the horrific one with the green mohawk. He's carrying it off though, and that's mostly because he's fucking awesome. He probably needs this getup because he spends his days doing back flips off the Matterhorn. A warning to everybody else....you should not attempt a peak or anything remotely racy or free-ride-esque unless you've got the skills / balls / cred / insanity to back it up, which, if you're a newbie, you probably don't.

Of course… there’s no point having a cool ski helmet if you wear it with sunglasses like this tit:

…Or if you have purchased some atrocious goggles…like these:

My uncle owns a pair of these. The shame.

…but goggles are a whole 'nother kettle of worms for a whole 'nother day.

A spy you are, James. An expert on ski fashion you are not.

Next: Jeans - how to look like a non-twat part 2.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Essential Seasonnaire Lingo: Part 1

Perusing the clandestine world of ski forums such as www.natives.com recently I have been enjoying the opportunity of dispensing all sorts of (highly suspect) advice to newbie seasonnaires. Those that know me might detect an overtone of slight bitterness, but this is mainly to do with the fact that I myself am not actually doing  a ski season this year.

Still. I like to use my experience for a good cause. So I've been putting together a glossary of essential and pretentious terminology for the new-kids-on-the-mountain so they can stride about resort with confidence, come December. Ladies this is particularly useful for you  when you're being chatted up by some snowboard bore in the local bar. You know, the overenthusiastic retarded type with a ridiculous goggle tan who can’t talk about anything except with detailed descriptions of all the tricks he did that day…

“…and then I did a heelside turn and just corked  all the way down…blah blah blah…”

At least if you're genned up on lingo, you can a) have a fart's chance in understanding what he's blathering on about b) know that he's talking shite and punch his lights out.....

So here you go:


Punter – A paying ski customer/ anyone sporting an all-black ski outfit or gear made by Spyder with some sort of silly hat and / or wankers who wear sunglasses with a helmet.

Name: Punter - Common or garden variety. Also called 'wanker'

Riding switch – The art of skiing backwards. Usually the practice of show-offs, lunatics, park rats, and beginners who have lost control.

Park Rat – Casual, Alpine-getto-garbed hoodlums who are not happy unless sailing through the air upside-down all day. Often to be heard boasting about various shattered limbs.

Cool? 'Fraid not.... 

Onesie – All in one ski suit. Your common or garden variety usually comes with a bum bag, big pouffy shoulder pads and is often worn by awesome ski veterans or 19-year-olds who think they are being ‘ironic’. Camel toe is a given.

Sailing pretty close to the camel there, if you ask me, Maz.

Fresh Tracks - The golden fleece. When achieved is arguably superior to any other feeling on earth. A single line, cut through a field of pristine, untouched virgin snow.

Beeps – Avalanche equipment. Only twats attempt fresh powder without it.

Pow – an abbreviation of ‘powder’ used by individuals who are either too lazy or too important to say the whole word. You should not attempt to use this terminology unless you are 100% certain you have achieved the necessary level of mountain credibility or you will look like a dick. i.e. Imagine this phrase from the lips of Piers Morgan: “Right, let’s go and shred the pow guys. Yah.”

First Lifts – The first round of chairs before the lift completes its first rotation in the morning. Often intended, rarely achieved, by boozing punters the Alps over.

If only they'd taken this from the front.

Dins – DIN settings. A German standard for the release settings on your ski bindings determined by a combination of your height, weight and boot…Fairly important to know about if you want to avoid rearranging your joints.

Bluebird – It has snowed all night and then you awake to wall to wall blue sky and fresh, untouched powder. A feeling akin to Christmas morning when you’re six years old. Possibly better than sex. Well, oral sex at least.

Cum, in my pants.

Corduroy – The corrugated trails left on the piste first thing in the morning after they’ve been groomed. Very satisfying to ski on. Punters often mistakenly think being the first one to hit this stuff is the same as getting first tracks. It’s not.

Gold Rush – The last two weeks of the season when everyone panic shags.

Jager Bomb – Foul, repulsive drink invented by Satan. A shot glass of Jager dropped inside a one third full tumbler of Red Bull. Toxic. Starts your engine like a mother fucker though.

Jager Mega drive – A Jager Bomb with an added shot of blue Curacao and Cassis. What to drink if Jager Bombs aren’t working.
Part 2 coming soon...

In the mean time here's all you need to know about seasons in one informative video...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Social Hand Grenade

Image: Modern Toss

Six months into my flash new job in Mayfair. I'm clinging onto a beading glass of champagne, whilst surreptitiously helping myself to more than my fair share of buffalo mozzarella from the circulating platters at a gallery launch party in Chelsea. The room is an elegant sartorial soup of cosmopolitan design-cum-artsy types and this glacier of a Norwegian chick in tortoiseshell-rimmed glasses has just struck up a conversation with me. I'm desperately searching for things to say that won't make me sound like a complete berk. She is the very picture of tousled perfection. Grey trouser suit, minimal make-up and red velvet kitten heels. I keep longing to ask her where she got them but that would be social suicide.

As a person who lives in continual terror of sticking her foot in it I never like to find myself the more verbose half of a one to one conversation. It's quite simply a countdown to launch until I say something ridiculous. This girl is of the indifferent, dead-pan variety. That type who is genetically evolved not to mind uncomfortable silences and almost goes out of her way to create them. She keeps asking me questions and then saying, "Mmmm" and gazing through me as if I'm made of glass and there's something fascinating occurring on the other side of my head. It doesn't, of course, help that she used to have my job, is two years younger than me and has now moved on to, in her words, 'greener pastures.'

"Sometimes it seems a bit of a shambles, don’t you think? Nobody seems to know exactly what it is the company does," she says silkily as I cram another handful of cheese into my mouth, concentrating hard on not letting the sweaty champagne flute slip through my fingers. "At least that was how it was when I was there...but that's creatives for you..." a flutter of knowing laughter. I notice she hasn't eaten anything whatsoever and is drinking mineral water and for some reason this makes me feel at an extreme disadvantage. 
"Yes," I say, trying to look sage. "I agree. We really need to redefine the way the company represents itself to the consumer, particularly online." 

Where is this bullshit coming from? I wonder; and how long can I keep it up for?

"Huh," she gives a Gallic shrug and smirks. "Nothing changes."

The fact this girl used to have my job and looks like Vanessa Paradis' long-lost younger sister has done nothing for my ego. Next to her I look like an elephantine fashion victim. It's rather shattered my illusions about being the 'hot, mysterious new girl in the office'. I feel like H&M threw up on me. Six months on a moderately decent salary a Burberry frock does not buy.

"So," a slow sip of the mineral water. "What is your background?"

Oh balls. I hate this question. I pause to construct an answer that sounds better than, "Umm...three ski seasons and a healthy dollop of bugger all."

"My core experience is in the digital sphere,” I coo, loathing myself. “Really the creative industry is new territory for me," ...nicely done...surprisingly eloquent...why is she still looking at me as if she's expecting me to say more? Why hasn't she replied? Don't panic...Just stop talking..."Actually I was expecting the industry to be full of bitchy idiots with their heads stuck up their arses. You know, people with designer beards, minimalist personalities and those uber trendy rimmed spectacles, but everyone I've met so far has been, you know....pretty normal."

...and there it is. The clanger. Hanging in the air between us like a sundried fart. Proof unequivocal, I think, as she adjusts her specs and glances over her shoulder at the owner of the gallery (who has a very lush, very bushy, rust-coloured beard) that I am an imposter.

"Er...I must just pop to the loo," I say, before she has time to think about it too much. "I'll leave you to your drink."

The thing is I'm actually really trying not to internalise London too much. All the bullshit parts I mean. It’s fun to play around until you start believing it’s really, genuinely important - the pressure to be in the know, to have fabulous taste and antique jewellery that you picked up in Burma, and a Marc Jacobs business card case and a rose gold Michael Kors watch. The pressure to record your every fart on twitter accompanied by an exquisite Instagram snap that perfectly captures the moment. I am trying, but it's hard, because I feel like an imposter and I have done ever since I got the job. Ever since the interviewer asked what I'd been doing with the last three years and I replied, "I took a career break to write a thesis and did some seasonal work to supplement my income." Not technically true, but sounds infinitely better than, "I had a mid twenties crisis because I was engaged to a psychotic cunt and then my best friend died so I freaked out completely, stuck two fingers up at the tube and sold my ass for a ski pass." 

Hilariously they bought it, and here I am, flying the corporate flag once again. But even with my fashionable new wardrobe (leggings and hoodies replaced by high heels and fitted frocks) I often feel I'm only a child playing at being this new grown-up version of myself. I have convinced myself, also, that it’s only a means to an end. The means – accruing the skills and experience that will enable me to make mountain life sustainable long term with a business of my own. That's the big ambition - to go back to the mountains. But not (as last season) to work for an ego maniac prick with an iceberg for a wife. And not (as in the two seasons prior) to be made scapegoat for the fucktardedness of others.

In the mean time let me take this opportunity to offer myself as a source of (slightly controversial) advice and inspiration for anyone out there considering doing a season.

Anyway. Back to the party. 

I've just reached the front of the busy queue for the loo, where the espresso I necked to sober myself up is starting to take effect in the worst possible way. I need a shit. It's knocking on the door and won't take no for an answer. The loo is unisex and crammed with people who look like they only crap apple blossom and orange mist - and there are no windows, of course. The trouble with minimalism is there's too much of it about. 

I flurry past a willowy goddess in desperation, lock the door and drop my load. But, horror of all horrors - it's a non-flusher. This turd just won't go away. All the loo paper dissipates swirlingly from around it, leaving this lump just floating there, mocking me. Winking at me. 

Christ. What d I do? I can't leave. People will know it's mine. I can't exactly walk out into a crowded loo of absurdly stylish and distinguished art professionals and announce, “that's not mine."

In blind panic, now, I try to batter it into submission with more loo roll but it still won't go away. It smells too. And now I've turned around quickly and knocked over the remains of my champagne where the flute combusts into millions of fragments on the polished concrete floor. 

How has this fucking well happened?

As I open the toilet door, an array of perplexed, designer-bearded and bespectacled expressions greets me. And here is Miss Norway, poking her head round the door and surveying the wreckage I've left in my wake.

"Could someone call the concierge, please?" I say, desperately trying to feign inner-poise and stepping gingerly out of the cubicle.

"Ooh. Who did this?" asks Miss Norway, dead-pan.

Alright darling. You've busted me. I'm a slumdog seasonnaire; a philistine masquerading as someone with dignity and qualified prowess. I can't walk in fucking high heels and I love cheese. I'm making my job up as I go along and until last week I'd never even heard of the owner of this gallery. 

As SbH's Mum likes to say: "What? I bet you’ve got a hole in your arse, haven’t you?"