One of the unexpected pluses from being an exhibitor at the recent snow shows in Birmingham and London was that my stand was opposite, for both weekends, the Snow Cabin, where visitors could hear various talks, mostly based around skiing and snowboarding.
At the end of the first Saturday there was a mini comedy festival, a warm-up to Altitude https://www.facebook.com/AltitudeComedyFestival in Mayrhofen next April and I had a great view over the heads of the gathered (seated) throng. Much of it was excellent and very entertaining. I was looking forward to the following weekend in London where I was going to be hearing and seeing some even bigger names in stand-up, including the excellent Marcus Brigstocke. Sadly, "hearing" turned out to be somewhat wide of the mark.
The Altitude stand was next to mine and as they started to hand out headphones to the audience I asked one of the organisers what on earth was going on. "We had a complaint last week," he explained. "Someone used the "S" word a bit too liberally so we've had to unplug the loudspeakers and everyone now has to wear headphones."
I wasn't particularly surprised. The "S" word wasn't snow and as the Cabin was very near to a large tour operator that focused on family holidays I could understand the nervousness.
By the time that Marcus came on every seat was taken and every pair of headphones had been given out.
It was a surreal experience - Marcus at the front talking into his microphone that could only be heard by those wearing headphones, with bursts of concerted sniggering, chuckling and giggling coming from the audience as if they were recording a tape of canned laughter for future use. It was very odd. A bit like a silent disco only weirder.
At one point an elderly lady shuffled past my stand. I think she was supposed to be at The Knitting Show but had got lost. She looked at Marcus in full flow at the front and heard the audience chortling. She turned to me and asked,
"What's going on over there?"
"It's Marcus Brigstocke. He's doing a warm up for Altitude Comedy Festival in Mayrhofen next year," I replied.
"Well," she said. "He's not going to get very far in life if he doesn't learn to speak up. I can't hear a word he's saying."
And with that she shuffled off.
So I don't expect she will be at Mayrhofen next April, but I reckon I will, if only to hear what everyone had been laughing at without, hopefully, having to put any headphones on.
In the meantime, don't forget to buy "If Gondolas could Talk," that features 101 of the best ski and snowboarding stories. Just £9.99. A great present for a snow lover.
More details: www.johnhemmingclark.com/skistories
To buy - Amazon: https://amzn.eu/d/7lkXUaW
Altitude Comedy Festival: www.altitudefestival.com