Tag Archives: friends

Bermuda – a pivotal place

What’s been the most defining time – or place – in your life?

Marriage? The birth of your first child? When Michael Thomas scored that last minute goal against Liverpool to win the title for Arsenal in 1989? Or when the school bully smashed your head against the climbing frame in the last week of summer term?

For me, it was the 7 years or so I spent in Bermuda in the 1980s.

Not that there haven’t been other equally significant moments – passing my professional exams; marrying my lovely wife Gillian; taking 8-14 to tie the nail-biting cricket match for my school against our local rivals. But the relatively short time I spent on the tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean has had a disproportionately important part to play in my 58 year life story.

Why? Probably because of age and circumstances. As a newly qualified 24 year-old bean-counter, jumping on a plane to a strange place where I didn’t know anybody, was – with hindsight, at least – quite a brave thing to do.

We’ve just returned from a holiday to the island – our first time back in Bermuda since 2000 – and it has only reinforced what a special, beautiful place it is and how it will always be deposited right at the front of my ageing memory bank.

The pink, sandy beaches are still unspoiled, empty and inviting. The golf courses are as challenging and photogenic as ever. The fish chowder at the Lobster Pot restaurant still tastes as good as in 1982….laced with rum and Outerbridge’s sherry peppers, of course. Hiring a scooter is still the best way to see the island. As long as you don’t fall asleep on one as I did, feeling tired and emotional after a long, hard day playing hockey.

Scratch the Bermudian surface now, however, and you’ll see some differences compared with 3 decades ago: the population is declining; the economy is mired in debt; there are perpetual immigration challenges; there is unemployment for the first time in decades; and gang warfare has resulted in occasional shootings.

But for the resident and tourist alike, this place is still pretty close to Paradise. If you like idyllic beaches, turquoise water, any water or land-based sport, a temperate climate, good food, Gosling’s Black Seal rum and a party, it’s hard to think of anywhere else that’s much better.

From a personal perspective though, the clincher is people. Of those who I first met over 30 years ago, some are now spread around the world, some are native Bermudians and some are long-term residents. But all are kindred spirits.

It’s as though time has stood still. We share a mutual passion for wonderful Bermuda, and I will always count my blessings for the time I spent there and for the friends I have made through being there.

I know that when I’m dribbling into my cornflakes at the nursing home, I’ll still be able to conjure up a rejuvenating image of drinking Amstels at the Robin Hood on a Friday night, strains of “Don’t You Want Me Baby” leaking into the humid night as we hatch plans for tomorrow’s sporting activities and party location.





St Anton ski trip – age shall not weary us

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.