Attention Bloggers – from the snowy slopes of Austria

This is blogger Boris calling from the slopes

snowy slopes2.jpg

Dear Bloggers

I am very sorry not to have done my blog before sloping off.

Here is the profoundest thought that has hit me on the pistes of Austria.

Many things have hit me on the pistes.

Drunken Dutch snowboarders.

My own skis.

My children’s skis.

But this is the nearest thing to an economic or political pensée, and it concerns CHOICE.

We were standing at the top of some icy peak only a few hours ago, my friend   Dr Justin Ruisbroek of Utrecht, and our ski instructor Chris. We were waiting tensely for our instructions – bend the knees, press the shin against the front of the boot, and all that kind of thing. We were like greyhounds waiting for the off. We were like mambas poised to strike. We were determined to do it to the mountain, before the mountain could do it to us.
Around us the clouds had parted. The sun shone on the snowy vastness. We stared over the lip of that black run and in that moment it was though all nature held her breath. There was not even the cheep of a chough or the croak of a mountain marmoset. It seemed the loudest noise, as we prepared to risk our necks, was the noise of our blood shooshing in our ears.
And then, quite suddenly, without any warning at all, there came from the breast pocket of our instructor’s jacket a small but familiar noise, and after much fumbling with his gloved hand there fell to the snow in front of him – yes, you guessed it, a mobile phone.
Chris then began a long and animated conversation in German with a fellow instructor, and it must be said that the excitement and mystery of the occasion was dissipated.
We must face reality. The mobile has changed completely the logistics of the skiing holiday. We now have an almost infinite ability to vary our plans and our preferences. We can start the day with a plan to meet Susie and Hugo and the kiddies at the Hospiz restaurant at St Christof, and so we send them all kinds of text messages to sort it out.
And then one of the kiddies will develop spaghetti legs, and need to go home, and Susie and Hugo will wonder if they could possibly ask Maria, who is in theory skiing with us, whether she could take the kid back to the chalet. But Maria is currently on another side of the mountain having a lesson from Ulla the other ski instructor, so we get on the mobile to Ulla, and Ulla passes the instructions on to Maria, and for five minutes or so it seems that everything is sorted out.
And then someone remembers that we have forgotten to book the restaurant, and that since it is a lovely day we are unlikely to get a table outside, and so someone gets on the mobile to the restaurant, and discovers after much shouting in German that our worst fears have been realised, and that the place is full. So it is then necessary to get back on the mobile to Hugo and Susie and break the bad news, and at the same time to work out another venue, and then of course someone will have to get hold of Maria, who will be coming back from the chalet and hoping to have lunch.
Try looking at your mobile after you have sorted out one of these trivial questions. You will have made and received about 15 calls, and they will not have been cheap. Up there in the ether greedy satellites are gratefully receiving the torpid details of your endlessly revised arrangements, and charging a whacking great fee, and then spanging your bellowed negotiations all the way back to the UK, where your own mobile operator charges his own socking fee before pinging the tedious nonsense all the way back to the satellite currently over the Austrian alps, so that a friend of yours on the other side of the same mountain can decide more easily when and how and with whom to have lunch.
By the time you finally take the mobile from your hot ear, you find that you have been at it for half an hour, or more!
And just as you are putting on your gloves and adjusting your goggles and pushing off for the rendezvous the blasted phone goes again and someone else is saying, scrub that, why don’t we meet at the Edelweiss Bar at Gampen 2600!
Aaargh! Are we not all, my friends, in the grip of a slight insanity? These mobiles have added greatly to the flexibility of our lives. They have increased choice. But have they really increased freedom?
Would it not be blissful just to be make an arrangement in the morning and stick to it, and to be left in the mountains to ski?
Would it not be better to be able to go up in a chairlift, and look at the view, and to be reminded of Pascal’s line about how la silence eternelle de ces espaces infinies m’effraie, and not to have the awful yodel of the Vodafone in your pocket?
My point is that we can sometimes end up more free, if we have a bit less freedom of choice.
Never forget that they shot Lawrence of Arabia on location, in the desert, with only one landline.

35 thoughts on “Attention Bloggers – from the snowy slopes of Austria”

  1. Just as my Official Poll Card plops through the letterbox (thank you, thank you Suffragettes!)- we hear from Boris on the remote slopes of Austria!

    Whatever next? It’ll be Blair firing the starting pistol on Monday…

    Jozef’s ‘It’s Time’ slogan is acquiring more meaning now

  2. I avoid such things by forgetting to charge up my mobile. Mind you, people do tend to get very annoyed now if they can’t get into contact with you, it’s rather expected that people always carry mobiles with them.

    (being able to update blogs from bizarre places, however, is very exciting)

  3. Another international trouble spot to be soothed by the presence of our hero. I was not even aware that there had been a war/earthquake/epidemic/Tory Party Fete in that part of Europe. Thank God Boris has his finger on the pulse.
    Thanks, Bozza!
    Just one thing, Lawrence of Arabia wasn’t shot. He died in a motorcycle accident. No problems, you are a politician, and I would not expect you to trouble your head with facts.

  4. You do have the freedom to leave your phone switched off. Stop encouraging the creeping infringement of liberty, you big skiing fule.

    PS. Boris for King!

  5. I think that you or most people wouldnt be able to survive without a mobile for longer than a week or even a few days, so I say why dont you try it, try going without your mobile for a week or if that is just slightly too long then try a few days or if that too is also a little long then try a day. I think it is a very good idea, or anyone else that wants to try it….

  6. Personally , I hate mobile phones, I like to have the freedom of being alone, when I want to, but turning one’s own off doesn’t always help

    I’m a dinosaur: I hate the bl**dy mobile
    It’s a source of irritation I can’t stand
    No matter where you go, there’s always someone
    With an elbow bent, and mobile in their hand
    You see women, pushing multi layered trolleys,
    Whilst thumbing in a number as they go,
    Whatever did we do before the mobile
    Was there a total silence: do you know?
    People doing shopping: say, at Tesco
    Will dial and ask their spouse, “Is this the one?”
    What happened to the lists we used to carry?
    Have they no will at all, has memory gone?
    You never have a second’s peace and quiet,
    As the ring tones blare cacophonies all round
    There’s Mozart, there’s Rossini, and even Philip Glass
    No escaping! They’re in quadraphonic sound.
    Were I in charge, I’d ban the bl**dy mobile
    Please keep your mobile phone out of my face


  7. Hee hee. Nice post Boris, you crack me up. I thought this post was going to be some April Fool relating to recent antics at Klosters, but I should have known better.

  8. Melissa, you disappoint me, and I never thought that I would say that. Do take everything that Bozza says at face value too? Surely not.

  9. Vicus/Long Held Oracle

    Surely there musht be shum mishtake…(was that Tony Benn?)

    You’ve come across the most naive and ingenuous one around !! there! Go, poor spirited, me!

    *quivers in the shadow of Vicus’s towering presence*

  10. I can quite happily go without my mobile, In fact, I’m not even totally sure where it is.. I know I brought it to Wales last weekend, but I’m not sure where it is now. Maybe it’s still in the car.. But the thought of a week without my wireless internet scares me to the core. I’m already worrying about our two week summer holiday in France without the net.

  11. What I like about this string is the bizarre juxtaposition of Klosters and Arabia. Snow and sand. It’s almost like poetry. We need a little poetry in our lives.

    The most irritating thing about mobiles is not the carrying of them. Or the answering of them. It’s the ringing of them. They can all be set, with a few simple keystrokes (mine takes 8), to alert you with a silent vibration. Then you can check who’s calling without annoying everybody else, and give yourself time to think whether you need to answer without all that distracting ‘my favourite classical theme played through a mouse’s hearing aid’ ring tone nonsense.

    Does anyone ever use this facility? Nope. Can’t be bothered to learn. Bit embarrassed about the vibration jokes. Or just too plain self-important to realise other people don’t want to know who’s calling you.

    Mystifying. Does Boris have a vibrating alert? I think we should be told…

  12. Wifey: “the thought of a week without my wireless internet . . ”

    If the telecoms don’t lean on the politicians to stop it happening we could all be enjoying (maybe wrong word?) more or less free calls on our mobiles with WiFi/VoIP (voice over IP) in a year or two.

    Is anyone here using VoIP? We have set it up and tried it out, but so far only with a (SIPphone) software phone. It’s free of course.

  13. seems remarkable to (non-high tech) me.

    VoIP sounds well worth investigating… Where do you get all this stuff – Computer World or Carphone Warehouse?

  14. Melissa: Hardware is not essential, other than a microphone and speakers which you presumably already have with your computer.

    There are different possibilities, but you might start with Skype:

    This is P2P (peer to peer) rather than real VoIP but it’s easy to use.

    There is also SIPphone at:

    This is real VoIP. You can download a software phone to use with it.

    Both of these services are free, so long as you call computer to computer. Computer to phone obviously is charged, but only at low rates. (Virtual numbers can be used. If your boyfriend is working in Argentina, and he has a virtual number in Kent, he can call you on your land line and only pay local charges.)

  15. ..thanx Simon, did you have inside knowledge on my mother being from Argentina, of all places??

  16. Just one comment on this subject, when downloading the programme, ensure that you choose whom you wish to be able to use your skype number. I had a whole lot of calls from people with whom I had nothing in common.

  17. It wasn’t me Mac, it wasn’t me!

    Seriously though folks:
    “Would it not be blissful just to be able to make an arrangement in the morning and stick to it, and to be left in the mountains to ski?
    ..My point is that we can sometimes end up more free, if we have a bit less freedom of choice.”
    Oh dear Boris you have been New Laboured, or should that be tonyed (not tangoed)?
    You are free, my dear chap, to do just that. You are free to turn it off. You are free not to take it with you, what you lack is the capacity.

    Freedom is defined as: A.the power or right to act, speak, or think freely B.the power of self-detirmination attributed to the will. Restricting a subjects choices, especially in the minutae of life for which the government should have no interest, does not achieve this.

    You should take responsibility for your actions. That statement is what this free country used to be all about. I was hoping the Conservatives were going restore the good things Labour has thrown out. Sadly your attitude does not promise this.

    Come on Boris, we need you. Social trends are difficult to resist I know. Peer pressure packs a punch. When you get back from holiday with your trendy friends, melt any lingering frustrations away over a scotch with Daddy and remember what this is all about. One of the things it’s about is the freedom to say ‘no’ and not have some grinning arse in government think he make better all your choices for you.

    C’mon Boris, we need you!

  18. I know it wasn’tyou, Jaq: you don’t come into the category of someone not having anything in common with me. Boris for the front bench.

  19. glad you’re enjoying the skiing – it’s super int it? I however had the nerve to leave my mobile at the youth hostel so as to avoid such incidents.

  20. My phone is silent. It never rings. I live a very quiet life and no one ever calls me.

  21. Badger :
    Is that a ghost I hear? You’ve been in the longest hibernation since the Oetzi the Ice Man. Where have you been? Surely not in the Oetztal again? I remember when your words rang across Boris watch as regular aman on All Bran. Why the long silence?

  22. Awww. Wish I could live a quieter life, on an island somewhere with a landscape like Plockton, assured of no callers. Sadly, at my back I always hear, the bailiffs drawing ever near.

    Ah happy to be in the smug, small minded, festering judgement of a new Labour society, long may it change.

    Boris for PM!

  23. Sorry Macarnie, this is New Badger (I am new on the block and am not even a reincarnation of your old friend).
    A tip: Stop washing! Less and less people want to know you and the phone soon goes silent. We badgers know a thing or two.

  24. Game on…

    Well, after a drawn out phoney war and a slight delay resulting from a departing Pontiff, the 2005 General Election is now officially under way with, as widely expected, May 5th as the big day itself.

    Not surprisingly this gets a few blogging mentio…

  25. Been using Skype to phone the family in far distant lands and have to say that the cost saving is incredible…which begs the question , how long will it last ?

  26. Boris and the Mobile of the Mountains

    On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m 9.9 in favour of mobile phones. I think they add huge amounts of value to our lives in many, many ways. And I’m fascinated about how they’re changing and will continue…

  27. We welcome brother Badger, a new guy to the fold
    Let’s call him brand new Badger; as opposed to Badger old.
    Now, when I was in the Andrew, those many years ago,
    A badger was a dinosaur, who, on arm three stripes did show,
    A relative of the weasel; or a man from Wiscon- sin
    Or lastly, just a poor old chap, with grey whiskers on his chin,
    ……..How would YOU prefer to be immortalised?

  28. How kind, a poem. No one has ever written a poem about me before. Time will tell how Badger was remembered or, more likely, how quickly forgotten.

    Meanwhile, are not Blair and Brown doing well! An A-team there. Is one allowed to say that here?

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