Magazine article The Spectator

Some Consolation

Magazine article The Spectator

Some Consolation

Article excerpt

By the time you read this I'll be holed up in a chalet in Val-d'Isere with a beautiful, 25-year-old girl. If you think this disqualifies me from writing a column called 'No life', you're dead wrong. The girl in question is my ex-girlfriend and she only agreed to come out of a sense of grim moral obligation. When we were still together we decided that a week of skiing together would be a nice, romantic way to spend the millennium - and it would have been if she hadn't dumped me first. By that time, of course, I'd already paid for the whole trip. I persuaded her to come only by telling her I'd go on my own if she didn't. The thought of me spending New Year's Eve watching Eurosport by myself was too much for her to bear so she very kindly agreed to accompany me.

To be perfectly frank, I'm not at all anxious about spending time with her. She's fundamentally so good-humoured, I know she'll make the best of it and I'll probably end up having a lovely time. At least I will during the day. It's the evenings I'm worried about. The real problem is I've given up drinking.

I touched bottom, as we say in Alcoholics Anonymous, on Good Friday of this year. I'd flown in to Heathrow that morning on the red eye from New York and then driven, non-stop, to Verbier. Actually, my friend Hutton Swinglehurst was driving, but by the time we arrived at midnight I still hadn't had a wink of sleep. I'd been up for 32 hours and the sensible thing to do would have been to go straight to bed. So, naturally, we decided to pop into the Farm Club for a quick nightcap. The Farm Club is the most depraved nightspot in the Alps but it was only five minutes from our hotel so it seemed like the obvious choice.

Six hours later I emerged blinking into the light, having drunk an entire bottle of whisky. By then Hutton was long gone so I set off in what I took to be the direction of the hotel. Two-and-a-half hours later, I was still looking for it. This wouldn't have been such an ordeal if I hadn't left my jacket in the club, not to mention my room key with the name of the hotel on it and my wallet. As it was, by the time I found the hotel and eventually slipped into bed I was in an advanced state of hypothermia.

After what seemed like ten minutes of sleep, I was woken by Hutton who was already in his ski gear. …

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