Monday, 7 June 2010

Small boy in a small world

The picture above is of me, beginning to cut a 13 foot high block of compressed snow, in the heart of Quebec City, close to where General Wolfe (a Bath resident) lost his life fighting the Frenchies. It was about -25 C. at the time, but at night and in the wind, temperatures could drop to a lethal -40, and we were warned that to go out alone at night, slip over and break a leg, then wait for assistance which would never come, meant that you had about 5 minutes to live.

More about that later, because this post is about a wonderful woman called Lusca (sorry about the bad spelling - it's pronounced 'Lootshka') and a series of very strange coincidences which make me realise how small the world really is.

I first met Lusca in her home country of Slovenia, which - at that time - was part of the wider Yugoslavia. She was our guide and fixer for a series of theatrical performances in Ljubljana, and had somehow managed to gather together our fee of about $3000 U.S. in cash, which she handed to us in an old shoe box as soon as we arrived. How she did this was incredible, and must have involved some dealings with the underworld at the time. They were all very poor, but very proud and extremely resourceful.

Lusca introduced us to her son, who had red hair and was around 7 years old at the time. She told us this amazing story:

When her boy was about 4 years old, they were traveling at night on a train from one town to another, passing through the very rocky, hostile landscape which makes up a lot of the flatter parts of Slovenia. The train was moving at high speed, and Lusca did not notice the boy fiddling with the door handle. Without warning, the door - which opened to the front - flashed open, and her son was sucked out and thrown into the rocks below. Lusca screamed and pulled the emergency cord. Because the train was traveling at about 90 miles per hour, it took about 3 miles to stop. The guard told her that the best thing to do was to carry on to the next station, then send a party out to look for him.

When they arrived, a group of sombre officials told her that to search for the boy in the dark was futile, and that he was sure to be dead, so they would begin looking for him in the morning. By this time, Lusca was almost hysterical, and began walking back up the track in the dark, ignoring orders for her to stop. She walked alone for miles in the rocky landscape, back up the tracks.

After several hours, she noticed a small figure standing by the tracks in the darkness, and as she ran toward him, she saw that it was her son - alive and well and completely unscathed. When she embraced him, he said in an angry voice,

"Mummy - where were you? I've been waiting for ages!"

She asked him what happened, and he said, "Oh nothing. I just flew like a bird".

I next met Lusca in the Swiss Alps, where she was living with her boyfriend, but when I went over to Quebec a few years later to 'represent' Britain in the annual snow carving festival, I noticed a familiar face at the reception. It was Lusca.


  1. Tom, How always stop when I am ready to hear more....

    So you were carving snow at Carnavale Du Quebec eh?

  2. Yes Raz - Bon Homme is a good mate of mine... (I'll tell you about that later)

  3. That's very impressive - is there a photo of the completed sculpture? How long did it last?

  4. I'll do a post on it next, Mise. I was a week in Quebec, then a week in Grand Bend, Ontario. The trouble is, one of the two people I took with me rammed me in the ankle with a luggage trolley as soon as we got off the plane, and broke it. It was so swollen and painful that I couldn't climb a ladder and I had to rely on them. Both of them were completely useless - UTTERLY useless - and I wasn't allowed to change the design. Full story will follow, if I can get over the depression about it.

  5. sometimes when we jump, or are pushed or pulled, we fall into the arms of angels! Those weren't bird wings that made him fly!!

  6. hi tom, its totally for the love of it, just went to see in yesterday and great cinematography, style and story.
    must check out the misfits as never seen it.
    all the best

  7. Oh, that's good to hear, Lady Noire. The Misfits is a bit depressing, and Gable, Clift and Monroe were all dead within months of finishing it.

  8. Tom - the story about Lusca was amazing. That little lad would have been dead without her. What a buzz to meet up with her again. I didn't know you did snow carving. I don't know a lot of things!

  9. I don't know much myself, Molly, I just pretend to. I only did snow carving once - never again (unless I am paid for it). Yes, Lusca's story still brings tears to my eyes, even now.