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A Rainy Night in Soho - the Pogues

Returning from a surprise offer of a holiday skiing in the top French Alpine resort of Val Thorens, which, not having skied for 35 years, was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse, I found that access to my blog had been stopped and have been for a month trying to restore it. But now, in the words of Billy Gordon of the Contours:

"....I'm back

to let you know

I can really shake 'em down."

Not having skied for so long, and never having been to Val Thorens before, the highest ski resort in the Alps, I was unprepared for all the changes I experienced, changes for the most part for the better in that they made the skiing much easier. Lift passes are now electronic so that as they are inserted in a little pocket on the wrist of your ski jacket entry to lifts and cable cars is a mere arm swipe away. Skis are shorter, easier to carry and more manageable on the slopes, everyone wears helmets and in Val Thorens, built practically from scratch in 1972, there are hardly any "T" bars or "pommer" ski lifts but rather a predominance of chairlifts and mini-cable cars. This is a top of the range, modern, high altitude ski resort.

One afternoon, at around four o'clock, I was following our ski instructor Damien down a mountainside simultaneously lit up with sunshine and snowing, the flakes sparkling around us like "diamonds from heaven", when we went over a brow to come upon a rave in full flow. A couple of hundred young people, togged up in a spangle of coloured ski suits were dancing like an Antarctic colony of emperor penguins on ecstasy to an mc mixing and spitting out encouragement to the disco rhythms on the forecourt of the cafe / bar La Folie Douce. It was like that scene in Apocalypse Now where Captain Willard's patrol boat seems to be going deeper and deeper into the jungle when it suddenly comes upon a massive brightly lit stage with rock music and dancing Playboy bunnies. And here's the thing: at an altitude of 2700 metres, in La Folie Douce, half way up the mountain above Val Thorens, the dancers were mostly Irish.

Back in my day, the French ski resorts were overwhelmingly populated by the English, followed by a smattering of French and a few Germans. In January, 80 per cent of the skiers were Irish, young professionals from Dublin. According to a study by Skidata, Val Thorens is one of the six most expensive ski resorts in France so this would seem to indicate a shift in the economic buying power of young executives in Europe.

Sadly they were dancing to a fairly cheesy disco selection and not the Pogues. They should have. They should have been swaying to "A Rainy Night in Soho". There aren't many better celebrations of young romance in rock music. Shane McGowan at his best, capturing the moment, his poetry like those moments, as beautiful in its simplicity as the falling snowflakes sparkling in the afternoon sun.

"We watched our friends grow up together

and we saw them as they fell-

some of them fell into heaven,

some of them fell into hell.

I took shelter from a shower

and I stepped into your arms

on a rainy night in Soho

the wind was whistling all its charms.......

......I sang you all my sorrows

you told me all your joys.

Whatever happened to that old song,

to all those little girls and boys?

I'm not singing for the future,

I'm not dreaming of the past,

I'm not talking of the first times,

I never think about the last.

Now the song is nearly over

we may never find out what it means.

Still there's a light I hold before me -

you're the measure of my dreams,

the measure of my dreams."


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