Mark

Ok. Here's the bare truth: Mark's snowboarding has gone up a number of levels. He's very competent. And that's through hard work, courage and that extra little ingredient. The want to push himself. I will not - cannot - say how anyone can do better, as I've never boarded but I can compare styles between, say, him and Jem. Jem looks quicker and I'd hazard to say is still. He looks very smooth as he navigates down. But Mark challenged him and consistently beat him down. Mark will also try more of the risky stuff, and this is what's bringing his game up. Of course the runs at Campo Felice and Ovindoli don't compare and have the range of challenges that somewhere like Val has, and this is where Jem has the upper hand. He'll go fast down any run. But Mark is catching up fast. Jem was a bit of a poof about the conditions and obviously didn't bring his 'A' game, but no excuses from Mark. He pimped it. No big mashes and he was the revelation of the trip.

Oh, just a couple of things. Mark did his best to avoid being the chief source of amusement, but when it was going so well, he imploded memorably. Firstly, he let us understand that the loving act between two members of the same sex was a 'wholesome' activity. Obviously in total disagreement with what's in the Bible, but who cares, it's 2006. Also his car has different mileage readings from all other ones. What we classify as 5-600 miles, in his motor, works out as a thousand. Something told us that this point was irrelevant: he'd drive round the equator for sloppy seconds anyway. And lastly his command of Italian was truly appalling. An analogy would be Prakash cooking curry - he cannot resist butchering the language. He rapes and pillages his way through verbs and pronouns whilst leaning on the counter looking happy with himself. Proof that smarm and poor grammar offers next to no chance with a woman with at least a fifth of her faculties.

Any trip that is enjoyable needs Mark on form. For him, his personality is a magnet for any extreme situation. You need an oil tanker loaded up? Call Mark. The weather is atrocious and everyone has gone home and off-piste is the only way down? Mark's already zipped halfway. A boring conversation is petering out? Wait for Mark to drop a clanger and "...restart the trauma..". A true legend.

"Shabba!" As he's part Jamaican as well, I'm sure he'll know that classic tune, 'Mr. Loverman'. Judging by the luck he has with the women I'm sure he's at times thought the lyrics appropriate when serenading a young lady. Because he's tried everything else! I'm only kidding, Mark.

 
Mark and James getting close. You better hope, James, that Mark wasn't loosening your bindings. He'll do anything for someone else to fall, so that I can make a movie about their crashes instead! Actually, it was everyone else this trip that looked like clowns. Mark, instead upped his game, and sped down all the runs with no worries.
 
Oh classic picture! Suspend any notions at this point about what we've all been told that Mark is an insomniac. Revel in the situation. It's like this: if Mark is working his backside off to knock Jem off his snowboarding perch, then he'll tire himself out. If he tires himself out, he'll go to sleep. If he goes to sleep, then he won't be able to open his mouth and talk. If he can't talk, then he can't chat nonsense. If he can't chat nonsense then....we...don't...have....anything to laugh about....hmmm...? Doesn't work. We like to laugh at Mark. Should've woken him up. Damn.
 
Good old MacGyver. By the way, anyone seen Kublai? One of these days Mark will bundle up Kubes in some packaging and we won't know where he's gone. A bit like Nick Nack in 'The Man With The Golden Gun', when Roger Moore puts the littleman in a suitcase and shuts him up.