Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa-la-la-la-la
‘tis the season of madness and folly...
I sometimes think that’s how the Christmas carol should go. For all its supposed jollity, the run-up to Christmas often feels more like a descent into madness. It’s a mad rush trying to get work done before everyone knocks off for the year.
It’s a mad rush fighting your way into shops to buy presents. It’s a mad rush preparing all that food. And even the Christmas parties, which are supposed to be your relaxing reward at the end of the year, can end up feeling like a nonstop whirlwind of chaos.
Yes, the build-up to Christmas can be seriously stressful. With all that going on, it can be easy to lose sight of what the season is supposed to be about - unwinding, hanging out with people that you love and actually enjoying your holidays.
So to help you put all that other madness into some kind of perspective we’ve decided to focus this month’s long reads on tales that are genuinely crazy.
There’s the couple who decided to ski round the world for a year, racking up at least 10 miles a day on skis for 365 days on the trot.
As an idea, it’s definitely slightly crackers. But it’s just a cracking story too. To achieve their goal they skied in 13 countries on five continents and they befriended Clint Eastwood along the way. As you do.
We’ve also interviewed Alain Baxter this month. The Highlander, as he’s known, will always be associated with the infamous injustice that saw him stripped of a skiing bronze in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. But more recently his career has taken an unexpected twist. This year he’ll be competing in Red Bull Crashed Ice - a mad sport if ever there was one.
"Associate Editor Lou Boyd lived off food she scavenged from bins for a week."
This month’s other interviewee has a story that’s equally full of crazy twists and turns. Billing herself as a professional skier / model / surfer / yoga instructor, Sierra Quitiquit looks like she has the perfect life. But as she tells Nina Zietman, she’s also experienced her fair share of tragedy and loss.
These (perhaps slightly unfestive) themes are explored in Sherpa too, a brand new film that exposes the crazy contradictions of the Everest climbing industry from the locals’ perspective. As the film’s director explains to Sam Haddad, it’s a hugely important story and one that all too often gets brushed under the carpet.
If that story is underexposed, then so are the shocking facts behind our final long read this month. Associate Editor Lou Boyd investigated the issue of food waste by living off food she scavenged from bins for a week.
It wasn’t some crazy attempt at starving herself before the Christmas binge, but rather a way of showing how mad supermarkets are and how much of the billion tonnes of food we throw away each year is perfectly edible. In a season characterised by conspicuous consumption (and inevitable waste) it’s a sobering thought.
And hopefully, like all our features this month, it’s a story that will help put the madness that surrounds Christmas into some sort of perspective. Because as everyone knows, the holiday season isn’t about elbowing past old women to grab the last flatscreen in Currys.
It’s not even about eating your own bodyweight in turkey, or drinking enough mulled wine to pickle your appendix. No, it’s about kicking back, relaxing and enjoying yourself. Here’s hoping that in some small way, these cracking Christmas stories will help with that.
Have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and we’ll see you in 2016.
- Tristan, Editor-in-Chief
Keep your eyes peeled for the long reads in our Future Issue, dropping next month