“Skiing and Drumming”. For a modest man that revelled in self depreciation, these were two skills Pete was quietly confident in. If you ever had the pleasure of witnessing him do either, it was a sight to behold. Despite a physique similar to Where’s Wally, there was a majestic poetry watching Pete glide down a ski slope, ever stylish in Nevica’s ‘best of the 80’s’ range, he always looked at home on the slopes.
Of course, there is more to a skiing holiday with Pedro than what happens in the snow. It’s only a matter of time before ‘Skiing with the Westropps’ makes it onto the list of 100 things to do before you die. The holiday would always start in the same fashion, arriving at Gatwick airport at 4am, met by five grinning faces of the Westropp Cousins, amongst a herd of friends and further family, clad in an assortment of tweed and retro paraphernalia. You were hit by an overwhelming and frankly frightening wave of enthusiasm that would fuel a week of pure enjoyment and leave unsuspecting chalet hosts in utter disbelief.
The early days would see the Westropp family invade an assortment of French ski resorts en masse, the five mini Westropps would take to ski school, Pete actively enjoyed ski lessons and reassured those less able than him that 4 solid hours surrounded by fearless, non-english speaking, helmeted mini Europeans in freezing conditions, wearing nothing but Nevica onesies wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Into the teenage years, ski holidays took a different tact with the arrival of Apres ski and Al Thornton. Sporting chin length peroxide hair accompanied by a Worzel Gummage look-a-like, two tall ungainly looking lads confident in their ability to entertain one another and the skiing to match, did wonders for Anglo-French alpine relations.
As numbers increased year on year, becoming more of an amalgamation from different groups of friends, Pete would often be the galvanising force behind many afternoons in Meribel’s Le Rond Point. As the clock hit 4pm, the group would steadily stream in, some weary, some still recovering from the previous evening but all with fervid excitement of what the après chapter would bring - Pete, armed with a bottle of toffee vodka, ensuring the masses were suitably prepared for Diego’s rendition of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’.
Needless to say Pete would be up for the first lift (there or there abouts) the next morning, accompanied by Jim and Ted Westropp eager to tackle another ‘beut’ day of skiing. Despite his ever present motivation to conquer as many pistes as possible, Pete was more than happy to assist the less experienced; most memorably coaxing Luke “the Whale” Wales down a blue run. The Whale, not in control of his limbs at the best of times, took it to new heights on skis, Pete patiently following him down the run, offering support and the odd encouraging laugh, as Luke helpfully cleared the way with some colourful language and flailing appendages.
There are endless memories from the skiing chapters that never cease to keep me smiling… the Westropp band playing a set in Le Rond Point, fully kitted out in shirts, ties and blazers, standard ski wear for 2007; finishing a week’s worth of Chalet wine on the first night of the trip; dessert waterfalls; Team showering; Pete befriending a large group of middle aged French chaps in the early hours of one of Alpe d’Huez’s night spots having bought a round of drinks for the entire bar; the Patterson Family who inadvertently booked themselves onto two ski trips and were last seen waterfalling a carafe of table water in Meribel; or, crowd surfing an overexcited group of children across a pub to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the name of”…but to name only a select few. Whilst it is difficult to typify Pete’s approach to skiing in a few stories, watching him pack for one of these holidays was a glorious insight into his mindset, Ellie witnessed him remove all bar one pair of freshly laundered ski socks from his bag in order to fit in his Jaguar pit suit, the need to showcase the latest in ‘alpine bant leisure wear’ was of course further up the agenda than staving off the cold. Pete threw himself at skiing holidays with an admirable gusto - the inevitable tonsillitis on return would be ample proof.
The skiing holidays will continue, but many of us will be riding chairlifts into our later years, with one of Pete’s classic one-liners nestled in the back of our minds. One of life’s exceptional humans, the best friend you could ask for.