A Belgian Songbook. T-Shirts In The Snow.

“When we imagine an alien planet, we rarely imagine it to be divided into countries – because that would be, you know, backward.”

-Neel Burton

Dear Polecat,

It’s a very weary Mink that’s writing this letter to you. I’ve sat down everyday, at least once a day, to write a letter and something pulls me away. So I’m determinedly writing it now, and I realise it’s over 2 weeks since my last letter. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling so drained; these letters always rejuvenate me in a way that you 100% know. I have a hot drink, I have Pringles, and I have a lot to tell you about, so let’s get this ship sailing.

(Also, I feel a little bad; in your last letter you said that I always post positive things in here. That is not the case with today’s letter, there’s an over-arching theme of Weariness throughout. Sorry. 😦 )

I had a lovely time at home visiting my family. The ceilidh went swimmingly; I danced all but one of the dances and got extremely sweaty and breathless. Ben and I spent a good part of one dance (in which we danced with each other) quoting Pride And Prejudice at each other.

“… for I wager you’ll not easily find such lively music – or such pretty partners!”

A true Scotsman never lifts his kilt up too high.

I didn’t really get any good pictures of me as Phantom; the plan was for me to be at the bottom of the rather grand staircase and greet people coming in, dressed thusly. Problem is, those people then when up the stairs and had their picture taken at the top, leaving me down (once more) by myself, sans camera. Truthfully, I only wore the cape until I came back upstairs, and the mask came off a few dances later. Masks are lovely things, but I find that unless it’s made to one’s face, it tends not to wholly fit properly.

I have to say, the mask did make me feel a little Phantom-y…

Apart from the ceilidh, I had a nice lie-in and spent time chatting with the family, then had the mammoth trip back to the mountain on the Monday. Driving up to Edinburgh wasn’t too bad; the car we hired ate the miles up well and I just had to make sure I wasn’t too bored. The plane wasn’t too bad either; I caught up on sleep and listened to quiet music. The transfer (from the airport to Bourg St Maurice) was infuriating; if it had arrived in Bourg about 10 minutes earlier, I’d have been able to catch the funicular up the mountain. As it was, I had to hitchhike up the mountain. I enjoy hitchhiking, but I always like to have a back-up plan. To stand there with my thumb out, not really knowing what would happen if nobody picked me up, was quite daunting.

But I got back up the mountain, and straight into work. So… that was fun. And since then it’s been almost unrelentingly about work.

It’s a complex environment at the moment, in work. There’s a lot of disconnect between the management higher than me and the staff I’m managing. One of our best (certainly one of our most enthusiastic) bar-staff had an email from the universities that he’d applied for, pulling his interview date from late April to Feb. Meaning that he had to leave; and not just for a visit because the three interviews are each a week apart. So he’s gone, and his replacement is yet to be found. There’s a lot of muttering about that (for good reason, I’ll go into detail when you’re out and we have a huge catch-up).

Although Wales are doing well in the Six Nations, so I’m happy about that….

So that, and a bunch of other things, have made work into something of an uphill struggle at the moment, for me and for my colleagues. I feel very much like I’m doing damage control, and saying ‘its not that bad’ is starting to ring a little false in my own ears. Ah well. I’m perpetually surprised when I work at a new place and find out that it’s not perfect. I should stop being surprised by it.

I also fell ill last week. I despise being ill; I know that nobody likes it, but I don’t deal with it very well. I get angry with myself for not being better. I get annoyed at the components of myself which don’t work and internally shout at them. You’ve not really lived until you’ve ranted at your nose for being blocked. 😛

It was mostly just the general ick that accompanies a cold/flu combination, but it seemed to hang around for longer than usual. Whether that’s the mountain, or working over-much, or whatever the reason. It wasn’t pleasant. I’m ok now, mostly, but I’m trying to be as healthy as I can (he says, eating a Pringle) so that it doesn’t happen again.

My title is a little cryptic; let me explain that. The past two weeks we’ve had hordes of Belgian students in the resort; 1500 the first week, and a mere 800 in the second week. The first week seemed very daunting, but when you have that many people they start to hire out private rooms, and hold parties away from the resort. In truth we didn’t see all that many of the 1500. But the 800 were just small enough of a group that they could fit in Red Hot, and so we had them for two Apres-Ski events and then for two evening/night events. The Sat night was pretty manageable; the Wed Apres Ski was doable.

The Friday, when they had an Apres-Ski immediately followed by the nightclub, was hellish.

Got a decent picture of the evening, though…

We were understaffed, over-crowded, and had much less time to sort out the things we need to sort out than we needed. Nevertheless, we survived, and for some reason quite a few of the Belgian students brought in their ‘studentencodex’ – apparently, as we found out, a sort of hymn book that is fairly widespread amongst students in Belgium and Denmark. This was explained to me by a drunk Belgian girl, just before she insisted that I use her pint of water to bless her using the sign of the cross and ‘in nomine patris, et fille, et spiritus sancti’.

Bit weird.

As for the second part of the title; I went into work about an hour ago to take Ash a jumper she had forgotten. I was wearing my raven t-shirt and the hat you go me (soon you’ll have re-dressed me with presents 😀 ) and then I went to the shops. I was walking past a lot of people wearing very thick layers, scarves and gloves, and I felt a little invincible because I was just wearing a t-shirt. Edinburgh trained me for cold very well.

As for your proverb, and what you spoke about last week – I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s definitely something that… afflicts… women more than men. The idea that being single means there’s a gap in your life to be filled is a ridiculous one. I think a relationship is a beautiful thing, it can be wonderful. But so can being single; the freedom to grow and develop yourself with your main focus being yourself is never to be underestimated. And it’s very infuriating when someone comes along and thinks you’re somehow lessened because you don’t have a partner. It’s insulting. Anyone who says that to you deserves a lot of scathe. A healthy dose of scathe.

You shouldn’t need to ‘defend’ against the advances of anyone, and the fact that you do is a saddening. I know what you mean about being flattered, because yes – attention is flattering. But it immediately stops being flattering when it stops being interest and starts being conquest. You ain’t a castle.

I’ve just realised how quiet it is – it’s snowing wildly outside and there’s no birdsong in the air, no noises outside except the very occasional car driving past. All I can hear is the tapping of my keys; it’s very peaceful.

Oh! I know something I’ve not mentioned yet! (See, my head is all over the place. I’m slightly worried that when you do come to visit, I’ll have just too much to tell you and we’ll have to find some sort of brain-to-brain peer upload so that I can just put all the information into your head at once. What a horrible experience that would be for you; all of my messed-up brain delivered in one go. Ugh, poor you!)

I’m an auntie!

A big name for a little girl.

Well, no I’m not. I’m a double uncle. My brother and his wife (mainly his wife, at this stage) had a baby a couple days ago; apparently a difficult birth and they had go to caesarean, but everyone involved is safe and well, if a little diminuative. She’s called Rinna Joanne Isatu Williams (I’ve yet to ask the meaning of the names) and she’s tiny. I won’t see her until May, most likely, so she’ll probably be walking and doing basic maths by then, but she does look pretty adorable. Josh and Bee make good babies.

This has been a really long blog post. It’s sort of been an explosion of mental consciousness, everything that I thought of said at a rate of knots. I’m sorry if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, or its quite rambly; your letters are always so thoughtful and mine just seem to be a little like I’ve thrown all my words at a wall. It’s been a pretty tough couple of weeks, in terms of keeping up my enthusiasm for what I’m doing (to answer your question about whether this feels like home or on extended placement – a little of both, honestly. I’m more comfortable with my surroundings, I know where things are, I know this apartment now and for lack of anywhere concrete to go back to, this is ‘home’. But I’m constantly reminded the differences, and that I’m here for a reason which is finite, and that time is passing) and it’s difficult to keep a positive spin on some of the aspects of being here. But here I am, here I’ll stay for now, and if I can solidly and steadfastly work towards bettering myself in various ways whilst I’m here, then it won’t be wasted time at all. On the contrary, I’ll feel like being here was a good thing, a life lesson, an adventure.

Mink x

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