Can you remember what were you doing in 2004?
Jose Mourinho was appointed manager for his first spell at Chelsea. M&S turned down a bid from Philip Green. Thousands of people were killed by a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. And our ski gang went to St Anton for the first time.
We’ve just got back from our second trip to this Austrian skiing Mecca…and goodness, how life has changed.
Just 11 years ago we queued for the first lift every morning. We hurtled down the pistes all day, and danced on tables at the infamous Mooserwirt apres ski venue, clutching our oversized beers and singing along with the oompah band. We abused the all-the-wine-you-can-drink policy at our chalet, and still had enough middle-aged energy to go out and explore the town’s many late-night fun-spots.
That was then….this is definitely now.
The chatter was more about replacement hips and knees, dodgy hearts, tummy bugs and the current pension reforms.
We started late, lingered over long lunches on the mountains, and retired early to the chalet for tea, cake and a pre-supper snooze.
We had a token apres ski effort at the Krazy Kangaruh towards the end of the week, but we were struggling to stay awake beyond 9:30 every night, without some sort of contrived entertainment. Or a discussion about medication.
More pills were popped than in a 1980s rave at a disused factory on the outskirts of Croydon. But for pain-killing purposes rather than Ecstatic dancing and trancing.
Where did it all go so wrong…..can the ravages of time really have worked their evil magic that quickly?
Of course we had fun. How could you not in a cosy catered chalet, waited on hand and foot, gorging on cooked breakfasts, fresh cake in the afternoon and a hearty 3 course dinner every night, lubricated by unlimited wine?
And whilst we might not have slalomed our way down the slopes as energetically as we once did, just being amongst the towering snow-clad mountains is as rejuvenating as an ageing politician shacking up with a young researcher. Emotionally, if not physically.
In 2026 the ages of our ski team will range from a mature 78 to a positively youthful 64.
By then, we’ll probably have a token run each day – around 11:30 – but only after the nurse has handed out the drugs, and the masseur has rubbed everything down. Then we’ll hunt down the gluhwein and goulash soup on a sunny verandah, reminiscing about those glory years of our Franz-Klammer like escapades, before heading back to the chalet for tea and cake at 3, and an absurdly early night.
But you know what? The camaraderie and joie de vivre of the group generated over more than 20 years of epic ski holidays will outlive any human frailties.
And I bet Jose won’t still be managing Chelsea.