Night in an Igloo

I often notice that spending a night in an igloo is on quite a few people’s bucket lists…and I think it’s clear why this may be; after all it’s out of the ordinary, a one off experience, and at the very least there’s potential for fun (if not frostbite and/or hypothermia.) 

As children we see drawings, cartoons, and photographs of these strange and snowy lands…and the igloo is a constant if not integral feature of this setup – it fills young and old minds alike with wonder as to whether the inside is warm and toasty…despite being made completely of chunky slabs of ice.  I mean surely it is right, or how would people survive the bitter cold?!

Please 90 GIF

Well while I was in Finland I was lucky enough to get to spend a night in one…it was a now or never situation as soon the slightly hotter March temperatures would melt them to the ground. So of course it was a yes without much hesitation. I  had some slight reservations mind you, so I piled on all of the clothes I had just in case (glad I did), from socks, to long-johns…hats, scarves, gloves…jackets, body warmers – the lot! I ended up looking like a cross between the Michelin man and a greasy German sausage; the only skin showing being my pink chubby face  and my constantly snivelling wet dog-like nose…

I went in with a friend I worked with, and my older sister: and we began to note how the outside looked rather bizarre, like a goblin barbarian camp – not sure where that idea came from, but it just looked otherworldly, you know? A long way from the winding uniform streets of my hometown,  the clanging of old clock towers, and the hustle and bustle of the bus schedules. Here there were strange ice huts, looking completely different to the post-card type of igloos my imagination had always held on to…instead they were draped in the skins of dead animals, and held together with strange sharpened wood…I could have sworn I had witnessed something similar in one of The Lord of the Rings movies – but anyway, I digress…

I was first into the igloo and threw myself straight into the center – meaning I was going to be a lovely cosy hamburger pattie with two agitated (and rather jealous) human bread-buns on either side…I had to ignore that and think of the bigger picture though: there was now a much lower chance of me freezing to death that night – try not to judge please, sometimes in the arctic wilderness you have to be savage like that:

Very Cozy GIF

The inside was just as bizarre as the outside and almost as cold; so I got straight into a sleeping bag still fully clothed like Joey on that episode of Friends – and then from my little cocoon surveyed the whole area…as my sister kicked me in the side and made every excuse under the sun as to why she should get to be in the middle as opposed to me. No sale. 

The place was adorned with even more animal skins, and there were a number of candles scattered sporadically around the outer ring – probably serving as both ways to warm as well as to add a little more quaint beauty to the otherwise sinister looking unlicensed fur store…I mean sure they were relatively comfy, but it made me feel slightly sadistic to be lying on Rudolph and all of his other now dead pals…

Anyway, I tried to forget about how some of Christmas had died just to keep my bum comfortable – and actually started to warm up a little…was still shivering though – so we passed around a bottle of the Finish spirit Minttu, hoping slurps of it’s 40% alcohol charm may work wonders and ease some the discomfort. It sort of did…we then fell asleep sometime after that whilst talking about the stars, the animal furs, and of course – the horrendous cold which was mostly all we could think about:

Cold Sucks GIF

I woke up the next morning warm and toasty though! Well all apart from that small opening I had for my face…which was now covered in frost on my eyelashes, and bogey icicles from my nose – but hey, at least the rest of me was okay – who needs a face anyway?  Not me!

But there was one monumental problem…I had to pee…desperately. And that would mean both going outside and leaving my lovely cosy cocoon, as well as potentially losing out on my commanding human hamburger position – this could not happen, no way…there was just too much on the line, the pee would have to wait. So I thought of other things…like…snow, ice, water…and…urgh…forget it…

As soon as I stepped out the -20°C temperatures hit me like a steam train and I knew that there was no getting back to my previous state – the other two were up now anyway, complaining about me leaving the door open (ooops) and the fact that they had to go to work in ten minutes…whereas I had managed to arrange a late start: “you sneaky bastard! How did you get that?! Totally not fair!” – this meant I could get my stuff together, brush off all of the animal hair (which was no small task!) and head back to the “Santa House”
as it was known, and get some solid sleep in a real bed…within, you know: four solid non-ice walls.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life. Like, not dying of hypothermia. Know what I mean? Still a fun experience and one I would recommend to anyone! But…just make sure you pack a bottle or two of that Minttu, it really does work wonders.

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Why You Should NEVER Ski.

Have you ever been skiing? Because you see, I hadn’t until this Saturday – so the whole thing was a completely foreign experience for me! For those of you who haven’t, and/or are visitors from out of space, let me give you the low down…

…basically you get to wear bizarrely fitted clothes which always make you feel like you’re either incontinent, or as if your pants are forever at your knees – this is all thanks to the strange swish, swish, swish the material provides. But forget about that, it’s not important – so yeah, then you put these big moon boots on, which you are sort of expected to walk around in, as if it isn’t a big deal…but you look like a demented zebra who is trying to walk on their slightly bent hind legs. Seriously everyone just staggers around, trying to pretend like they are walking properly…as if they always walk with their legs positioned in a strong C curve…

Weird Walking GIF

…then you attach these sticks to your foot, and you have these walking stick things. Except they don’t really help you walk so much, as just get tangled in your new-fangled extended feet contraptions, and doom you to fail from the first off. Your natural reaction is to laugh at all of the morons who are falling over…it’s your own personal screening of You’ve Been Framed…like a 3-D performance just for you! But then you fall, and it is no longer funny. You want to change the channel, but no…you are living it, this is real life. And now there is slushy grey snow down your butt-crack. And no, it is not at all pleasant.

Anywaaaaaaay, I didn’t do too badly – at first. I was on the baby slope as they called it, or was it the bunny slope? Either way it made me feel rather emasculated – why can’t it be called ‘the mini GOD track’ or ‘the tiny TITAN’…why do we have to feel like shit just because we’re not fucking winter olympians?! But I digress…I was doing pretty well, or so people lied to me anyway. I hadn’t fallen down (apart from when I tried to help another person up, and ended up being pulled down with her! Doesn’t count…doesn’t count…) I was actually getting a lot of confidence, and had started to shoot all the way, throwing in some imitation skill moves I had either played on a Playstation, or watched on a bad movie from the 90s. As I said to many…I felt like Pierce Brosnan….but probably looked more like Piers Morgan…

Piers GIF

So I was killin’ dem slopes, yo. I hadn’t caught any air, or curved the…alright I don’t know any skiing/snowboarding slang so I’ll just stop for both our sakes! I was doing well, so after a lot of pushing I decided to take my amazing skills to the big hill. WHAT A FUCKING DISASTER OF A DECISION. I mean I had an incline as soon as I saw the damn thing…it was basically as steep as a wall. Like an actual wall. There wasn’t much of a slope at all. But I still found myself sitting alongside some small children on the rickety steel lift thing…what the hell was I doing…and was I responsible for these children now, should they tumble to their death?! 

I needn’t have worried. They whizzed off with no problem. On the other hand I peered down the track uneasily, with all the confidence and cheer of a man on death row. It was basically the same thing. But only one way down…which was, like down, down. A new version of down I had no idea was even a thing. Sheer drop, break your neck, rest of your life as a vegetable level of down. That’s when gravity took hold…and against my will I was just sliding down this thing…I tried to retain composure….the speed increased, and increased, and increased…I thought about slowing down, but this hadn’t been much of a problem before…what had people told me about fries? Or pizza? Or…was it watermelon? No…maybe I’m just hungry! Trust me to be thinking of food at a time like – 

SLAMMMM! My pizza was too damn cheesy for the slope I guess, and I went tumbling, and falling with the grace of a rhino on stilts – I felt my leg click, I suppose I must have dislocated it or something….no matter, still tumbling, still falling – it should stop soon. Cartwheel here, back flip there, gravity will get sick of me soon, and move on to someone else to bully…hmmm…I think…

Ski GIF

But in that moment, looking up at the sky, I was relieved to have jarred to a halt. I was positioned awkwardly, splayed out like a swastika – basically the most offensive snow angel you’ve ever witnessed in your whole entire life.  I eventually dragged myself up, I was barely a quarter of the way down the hill…and could see me leg somewhere in the snow right up near the top…well okay, not my leg – but my stick slidy ski thing that had jolted off from my right leg – I’d have to reapply it, and continue on this cursed path…

But no, there was to be more shame, and embarrassment to come. You see the patrol ski guy…who thinks he’s so great because he has a red, and yellow jacket, with a little cross on it…and he can probably do backflips intentionally, rather than you know…by accident like me. But still, doesn’t make him any better than me! Apart from maybe, just maybe…at skiing…

He picked up my dismembered leg. And yanked off my other one. “YOU. WALK.” That was all. I was left alone of this icy tundra…just with my little grandpa poles to help me down, as everyone else whizzed past me…I felt like a pensioner version of spiderman…trying to walk down this basically vertical slope…digging my heels in, and bending my knees, so that I didn’t tumble, and turn into a giant destructive snowball – if cartoons have taught me anything, that is never fun, and ruins everyone’s day involved.

At the bottom, I got back my skis, and returned to the other hill. I was the big fish again…then again that’s not saying much when the other users were largely seven, and under.

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Stay Another Day ~ North-East 17

Move over One Direction, introducing your new favourite boy-band: North-East 17. Here they are performing their breakout hit, which is sure to make them the next big thing!

Sponsored by Budweiser, kinda…

SANTA CLAUS IS REAL.

Well it’s beginning to look, a lot like Christmas…don’t worry, I am not about to break into song! I just love this time of year…that festive feel, that holiday spirit, that – well, whatever you call it! I just unashamedly still, love Christmas!

Patrick Bauble GIF

Unfortunately it has came to my attention recently, that many foolish souls have been spreading a rather hateful, and malicious message…something that isn’t Christmassy in the slightest! And this is something for which I will not stand…as a resolute Christmasist! 

What I’m raving about are those Scrooge-like fellows, who wildly claim that Santa Claus, is NOT repeat, NOT real! Which is of course crazy!  And I have a story to prove it!

I was six years old, possibly seven, when I found myself sitting on a train with my Aunt. I’d just visited her in London, so I had just enjoyed a couple of days of looking up at big things, and eating ice cream. I was quite content, just staring out of the window – and holding on to my new “Evil Cat” soft toy, that a nice lady in Pizza Hut had given me. You could squeeze his belly, and he would emit a chaotic “MUAHAHAHAHAHA” giggle.  Amusing for me, probably hell for all of the grown ups. 

Amidst all of this fun, someone caught my eye a few rows down. I instantly stopped squeezing Evil Cat’s belly, and stared. There was a man, he was maybe sixty…or eighty, well he was old anyway. And he was sat there reading his book, minding his own business…but for some reason I couldn’t look away. There was something special about him. But it is rude to stare so I tried my best to look down at the floor, and out of the window…but I just…couldn’t! I had to have one more peek..then one more peek…then one more…

Blackadder Stare GIF

It was strange, I definitely recognised him from somewhere. He wasn’t like everyone else, who were either sitting there with a bored expression…or eating a horrible looking sandwich, that smelled like sick. He had a little smile on his face. His cheeks were chubby, and red –  he actually looked comfortably relaxed in his seat, in between sips of his hot cocoa…

And that flowing white beard! Not many people have that, it’s usually jus-

“WAIT! …WAIT!” I shouted desperately,

“Shhhhhh, John! Try, and kee-“

“BUT…BUT IT’S-“

“John, people are trying to re-“

I didn’t let her finish whatever she was saying, and simply pointed (rude, I know!) at the man sitting a few rows down…Santa Claus”, I announced proudly.

Yes Santa GIF

She stared too, and I waited in anticipation for approval…“it is, isn’t it?!” I blurted out hastily without thinking. She then smiled, and said she wasn’t sure – and that perhaps it was best to just go up to him, and ask.

Now this sounded like utter madness, to me! But it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity, I mean…how many kids get to say that they met Santa while he was off duty, on a train heading to the North-East of England? I haven’t heard that said, EVER! So there was only one thing for it, I had to go for it! I mean the worst thing that could happen is that he says, no – and then I burst into flames due to a severe embarrassment overdose…

I pulled off the chair, and began to shuffle slowly over to him – I turned back a few times, and there was my Aunt grinning, and giving eager thumbs up. Once I got to his row, I just stood there – transfixed. Thankfully he smiled warmly, and said hello.

“ARE YOU SANTA CLAUS?!” 

I couldn’t help it, it just burst out without me knowing! He maintained his smile, but I instantly regretted it, I wished in that moment that I had just stayed seated…that I had just carried on squeezing Evil Cat’s belly. I shifted awkwardly on the spot, awaiting his answer…

“Yes. Yes, I am.” he whispered in a hushed tone. I didn’t say anything, instead I immediately fled back to HQ to report the news:

“IT’S HIM! IT IS! IT’S ACTUALLY HIM!” 

Santa GIF

She asked what he had said to me; “well – I came back here to tell you…so, nothing…” I suddenly realised how I had missed out on so much in that opportunity, I had let so much slip through my fingers! My Aunt agreed to come along with me, to make right my wrongs. 

We had a lovely chat; I asked him why he was on the train – he said even Santa needs a break sometimes, to which I thought fair enough. He showed me some photos, of him and the guys (his reindeer, and his elf friends). His wife looked friendly on the photos, he said he missed her a lot but he’d be back with her soon. He actually remembered my name, once I told him – he said I had been pretty good this year, which was such a relief because I was half expecting my poor performance in maths class to affect my present haul that year!

My Aunt said we best leave him alone, that he had a lot of things he had to do for all of the other children…I nodded, and walked back to my seat.

Just before Christmas a card arrived from him personally, with a photo of him, and his wife on the front – they certainly did look happy to be reunited. It was nice to know he hadn’t forgotten me, because I certainly didn’t ever forget him…

Have yourself a very merry Christmas!

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