It was the first and only time we’d taken a sprout skiing.
Why? Well, there’s a story.
It was a clear, sunny day and as we tightened our boot clips at the top of the Pas du Lac ski lift before descending into Courchevel, I heard laughter. Looking around, the cause was obvious. Three ‘ladies’ were entertaining the crowd. Dressed in flowery dresses and coats, headscarves tied tightly over fluffy hair, they clasped their handbags and adjusted their sunglasses. They preened themselves and stretched their lipsticked mouths.
‘Going to the post-office to collect our pensions.’
‘Do you know where the post-office is?’
Then some advice. ‘You take care. Make the most of being young!’
One of them handed a card to Siân: ‘The skiing Nana’s’ (with unnecessary apostrophe – author’s note).
Their repartee was well-practised in a (pseudo?) Brummie accent. These ‘Nanas’ have a strong Facebook following, where their odd underwear and odder anatomical parts are on display. They cavort around the ski resorts for no obvious reason other than amusement.
As they prepared to set off on their short skis (the sort that need no ski poles; poles would clearly get in the way of the handbags), one of them handed something that looked like an old-fashioned gobstopper to Siân.
‘Have a sweet, dear.’
Ten minutes later, on an almost empty slope, a wild skier decided he needed Siân’s bit of piste, falling over and causing her to fall, too. Siân never falls. She hurt her hand, not seriously, but she is a pianist.
We headed for a drink at a local chalet and Siân put a sprout on the table. We looked at her and stared at it. What kind of fetish was this? It was the ‘sweet’ from one of the Nanas. Well-formed, a tight little bundle, it was a sweet sprout. It accompanied us for the rest of the day.
When Siân fell getting off a chair-lift, a bruising fall, we began to think something was up. Was this the curse of the sprout? We were worried about a third fall – not that we are superstitious – so stopped for a vin chaud to calm our nerves. The sprout sat on the table again, greenly giving us the evil eye.
That evening, we decided there needed to be a ceremonial discarding of the sprout. One day was enough. We hoped it took its curse with it. The following day, Peter, Siân’s husband, was hit by a snowboarder. The third event – or did he have sprout remains in his pocket? Who knows?
The moral is – don’t accept sweets from strange ladies!