69. Everest, The Book Test and a daft story.

I’m fascinated by mountains – one of the most wonderful road trips I have ever taken was through the Swiss Alps. Magnificent things!  However, mountaineering is not something I have ever aspired to, or had any particular interest in,  and nor am I likely to now – I didn’t think Mum ever did either, but it transpires there was a distinct phase in her reading, late Nineties and early Noughties, when she bought several books about the subject. I came across one of Joe Simpson’s books in her collection again the other day, (and I know there are more about climbing), while looking for something else. This one is called ‘Dark Shadows Falling’, and having done my Book Test – reading Page 69 – I intend to read it.

I’m sure I have mentioned my Book Test before – how to choose a book I will enjoy. An attractive cover will often get my attention in a book shop, or an author I know – I will also have a quick look at the reviews on the back; some I’ll ignore, others I will pay attention to, but… the ultimate question, ‘Am I going to buy this book?’, comes down to Page 69. Any half decent author/editor is going to make sure the synopsis, and the first couple of pages, are attention grabbers. BUT… can they maintain the momentum? In my experience, quickly reading a page around the 69 – 70 mark will tell me whether I want to read that book – and, it is unlikely to spoil the plot for me too. Go on, try it!

So. The daft story. Honestly it still makes me giggle when I think about this! The background – I spent a year in Java, Surabaya to be precise, teaching English. Great experience, good times generally – Bali was less than an hour away by plane and I often nipped over there for the weekend, because if you are going to be boiling hot, where better than on a beach. Air conditioning was the other answer though, and one 36C hot and humid Saturday, I headed to a local cinema, mainly for the aircon, to watch a movie and cool down. I was wearing a summer frock, thongs, (flip flops, jandals, whatever!), and sweating – so I picked up a cold drink in the foyer, and in I went.

What I had forgotten in the heat of the moment, forgive the pun, was that I really should have taken a cardigan or scarf at least. Initially, it was blissfully cold in the cinema, the air conditioning was absolutely fantastically efficient. BUT I was shivering within minutes and huddling into my seat. Wait. It gets worse. The movie was ‘Everest’, in 3D.

I endured it for some twenty minutes. Until the first blizzard struck. Don’t forget, this was 3D…imagine the horror, I’m bloody freezing cold already, and here I am, in a summer dress, with snowflakes whirling around me. I honestly don’t think I have ever felt so cold in my life! I ran for it, found a cafe with an outdoor balcony and ordered a HOT hot chocolate, to enjoy back in the comfort of 36C plus heat. Extra hot. Never have I been so happy to drink hot chocolate in blissful heat and humidity. And… I have never seen the rest of the film. Might do one day, but honestly, I still shiver every time I think about it! Daft or what!