Alex Leigh ponders the slope flyer mindset
Before we can narrate the strange life of the SLOM, first we must introduce him properly. A single letter away from a SLOB, but diametrically opposite in both thoughts and deeds. The SLOM is simply an acronym for the Slope Obsessed Man, and here we'll attempt to describe the chronology of his strange days.
At first glance, a SLOM looks like you or I but if you study him, and generally this mental condition attaches itself only to the X chromosome, the clues are there. Firstly his face is likely to be tanned slope side only, the eyes will be a little sunken from too many sky-watches, the features softened by the sculptural force of the wind.
But it is the way he acts that will surely give him away. The SLOM will think nothing of stealing time from his lunch to fund the hit of a local slope. Setting off in the pouring rain, he will categorise this intense wetness as a clearing up shower, and worry not at all about the potential damage metered out to his expensive radio gear.
You see, any sloper is by nature 'bi-polar peaking' when the summits are straight on into a big wind and the sun is shining , while mentally landing out in the valley when mocked by the Meteorological Gods. He will trudge half a mile up a semi vertical hill, much encumbered by difficult model shapes, face stinging against a raging hailstorm, and internally declare 'good blow that'.
When he finally attains his launch point, the SLOM will sniff the wind, cast an experienced eye over rippling vegetation, and select the most appropriate winged arrow from his quiver. And quiver he will with excitement and not a little trepidation as the model flies from his fingers with only a long dead Newton in the pilots seat.
Here we get to the core of the SLOM. Having bested the challenges set before him, the slope isn't really working, the rain is getting harder, the wind-chill is biting into his fingers and it is here that a normal man would cry 'enough'! And walk away, finding solace in the stunning surrounds realising that his hobby had long ago descended into a mental illness.
Not the SLOM, he lands, he ponders, he tweaks and he throws again. The wind and the rain are not enemies, not something to be beaten, rather partners in his illicit game of chance. He can see the blue sky - driven on by an unseen force - flashing across the valley floor, a gimlet crack of sunlight splits the grey and finally he finds an edge, a pocket of air, a space where his model soars.
So, finally, here the SLOM is at his happiest. Unless a fellow SLOM happens to be packing some EPP combat gear then the jerky ballet of zoom and dive, duck and weave can be joined, and to the victor the simple verbal spoils of an elongated micky-take.
The real world soon pulls at the SLOM, and he must be abandon his alternative reality and return to the mundane. But he's still a SLOM, so in spare, sly moments there are maps to pour over and weather forecasts to study.
And while to you the SLOM may seem a sad character, a little one-dimensional, too selfish, a bore to others, delusional to himself, and granted, there may be some of that. Let me leave you with this; how many people can take simple joy from the wide open spaces, the wind in their face, the sun on their back and a winged pal crashing through clouds and rolling through space.
That's the thing with a SLOM, he's a bit odd, but he's happy....as long as it's a westerly.