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"Exceptionally funny" Scout & Scouting magazine

"...lots of hilarious stories that will make you laugh out loud!" The Ski Guru

"...many of these stories will make you smile." Top Ski News

Featuring pop stars, royalty and MPs but mostly people like you!

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Anyone who has ever hit the ski slopes has a story. Some have quite a few.

Self-confessed ski bum (for seven days each year) John Hemming-Clark has more than his fair share of anecdotes, many based on his inability to ski, learn a foreign language or behave at anything approaching a competent, let alone professional, level whether by design or accident, in and around the Alps. These tales started with his very first ski holiday when he decided to tackle a red piste without having taken any lessons, and have continued right up to the present day.

If Gondolas Could Talk is a diverse collection of his very best adventures that feature mostly Alpine ski resorts, lifts, instructors, chalet girls, hotels, restaurants, bars, lift attendants, cross channel ferries, airports, overnight stops, motorways, péages, dry slopes back home, not forgetting other skiers, with contributions from family, friends and complete strangers of all ages. A sizeable number of these individuals (even though many of them wish to remain anonymous) have been unable to return to the resorts from where their stories have originated.

If Gondolas Could Talk includes one hundred and one of the very best ski stories.

John Hemming-Clark writes...

I was sitting on the terrace of La Rosée Blanche at the bottom of the ski slopes in La Daille, part of Val d'Isère's vast Espace Killy ski area, sipping on a large, cold pression. It was late afternoon on a beautiful early March day. My wife, friends and I had just bypassed La Folie Douce, a crazy open air bar at the top of the several runs that we could now see in front of us, and descended OK Coupe du Monde that runs all the way down from the top of Bellevarde. We decided on this more genteel après ski venue as it's an almost obligatory stop after tackling the challenging red slope that is used for the women's World Cup.

I was watching several games of human skittles taking place on the other red, as dozens of hopelessly out of control (mostly) English skiers, fuelled by afternoon excesses, attempted to get down to the valley floor as quickly as possible, not necessarily particularly skilfully. Some were succeeding rather too well. I turned to Will. "That reminds me. Have I ever told you about the time I played skittles in a bar in Austria?" Will sighed; he had heard that story a dozen times before. However the couple sitting next to us hadn't. "Tell us," they said and in return they told us a couple of theirs. "Everyone seems to have a ski story," Will pondered aloud. "You have quite a few Johnnie, you should write them down." So I did and, along with those from various other contributors, both young and old, the best are now in this book. They're mostly an Alpine A to Z, from Alpe d'Huez to Zürs with a few other resorts from further afield plus related ferry, airport, motorway, snow train, over-night stops and a section of ultra-short "Chalet Girl Shorts" and "Shorts" stories thrown in for good measure.

If you like skiing you will love If Gondolas Could Talk!

If Gondolas Could Talk includes stories from:

Alpe d'Huez: Sharing a shower with a snowboard, disappearing into a snow hollow, snow chain snag and a vanishing hotel. Not bad for one trip.

Les Arcs: Never mess with chalet staff's night off.

Aspen: An unexpected birthday celebration gift that wasn't.

Avoriaz: Red run bombing with a ski glove.

Banff: A janitor in the john causes cringe worthy confusion.

Beaver Creek: Bargain basement skis turn out to be not quite what was expected. Peppermint liqueur with a dash of hot chocolate.

Bourg-en-Bresse: The children are sent out to fend for themselves with their mother's debit card in a pizzeria.

Bourg-Saint-Maurice: Never order anything from a menu in France without knowing exactly what it is.

Brides-les-Bains: Insightful interlocution on the chair lift.

Calais: A playground for the British and an amusement park for the French. The Burghers of Calais weren't what was expected. Mother has a meltdown in the hypermarket.

Cervinia: Safeguarding shocker with the ski instructor.

Chalet Girl Shorts: Burnt croissants. Stale croissants. Double trouble. Massive injury on the slopes. The mystery of the severe allergic reaction. How the French pistes are graded.

Chamonix: A not-very-friendly Café de l'Amitié.

Courchevel: L'andouillette AAAAA. Possibly the worst thing you can ever put in your mouth.

Davos: You never quite know who you might meet on a chair lift.

Les Deux Alpes: CLOSE / rhymes with dose / adjective 1. only a short distance away, or

CLOSE / rhymes with nose / verb 1. bring two parts of something together.

England: Drama on the dry slope with break-a-neck bindings.

Flaine: A very snowy lunch.

Le Fornet: Don't touch that!

Geneva: The four-year-old bobsleigh smuggler.

Les Gets: Live no Lies.

Gstaad: Accidental acquisition by an ageing aristocrat.

Heathrow: A worried wife on her wedding night.

Les Houches: Four young guns meet their match with the Swedish ski bunnies.

Ischgl: Teenage trauma with a black run adventure and a stand-in skier.

Lenk: The day the lights went out. Two Swiss saviours. Scooby-Doo saviour on the slope.

Le Lioran: Teenage translation trip-up when trying to be considerate.

Mayrhofen: A steep learning curve for a group of first-time skiers that takes in clothes, travel, accommodation, food, skiing with no lessons, chair lifts and a hotel spa, with a few lessons learned for the following year.

Méribel: Ski chalet shenanigans.

Méribel Les Allues: If you ski down near the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise,

'Cause there you will see a lady fair, who wished she was in disguise.

Morillon: A very sharp shooter in the ski chalet.

Obergurgl: If you think skiing's expensive spare a thought for someone whose bill could have been more than most.

On the Motorway: The feeding of the five thousand - almost.

Passo Tonale: Schoolgirl skiing crush that ended up with a broken heart and more besides.

Le Péage: Le péage: noun / a bottleneck on French motorways where vehicles play bumper cars when approaching and practice drag racing when departing.

La Rivière Enverse: Mealtime miscarriages.

La Rosière: Skier gets exactly what she bargained for, possibly, on a button lift.

Saint-Dizier: A hotel in town with rooms that come complete with guests already installed…

Saint-Dizier outskirts: …whilst out of town bring your own commune.

Sainte Foy: In France most understand French and many understand English; a fair number understand both. In the Val d'Isère region not everyone understands French - but everyone understands English. You have been warned.

Sestriere: The novice skier who started on a black.

Shorts: Chair lift trauma. Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh). A lesson learnt from the chair lift. The longest skis. Never take a short cut. We don't need our passports now - we're in the E U. Mullit merchandise. The perils of owning more than one ski jacket. The ski hotel with a dinner dress code and its own tie. The secret is not only knowing when to turn but actually to turn. How to turn on a steep black. "I thought I heard you say that you could ski with only one ski." Never dangle your ski poles on a chair lift. A sparkle in the snow. Like father, like son. Fun with the face paint. Stop staring at my mum! A little misunderstanding in conversation with Spacey, Saalbach's infamous Spitzbub DJ. Manfred makes sure of his customers' skiing ability. Possibly the best café gourmand in the world. Patience is a virtue. Pie eating competition. A worrying encounter on the Trumpton lift. Don't lick the pole. Sportlov. High-end cough medicine on the piste. Nearly everyone has a role in this group of four skiers, some more important than others. Gin and tonic margarita. Skiing is a rich person's sport. A Top Gun moment in Switzerland. No falling over. Jumping into skis failure with a happy ending for some. Waterslalomskiing out of your boots. Foggy vision after an evening in the Krazy Kanguruh. Never trust a friend who speaks fluent French. French bevvie breakfast. Formidables.

Le Snow Train: A costly brush with authority on the journey home.

Swiss Alps: A summer hike across Switzerland.

Tignes: Double trouble on the Bollin and Fresse chair lifts.

Troyes: Culinary carnage, alcohol angst and parapet prancing all in one evening on the way down to the Alps.

Val d'Isère: Beware of overweight middle-aged men coming down the piste out of control. The lads go lingerie shopping for their wives back home and get a little less than they bargained for. French bistro dining v. Karen and nachos.

Vercland: If gondolas could talk.

Wengen: A big stink in the gents' toilet.

Zell am See: A pac-a-mac hood causes confusion and chaos. Pussy flugels hit the high notes.

Zermatt: The bar that's not what it first appears to be.

Zürs: Helicopter accident above this fashionable resort.

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