I just got home from a week’s skiing. Mrs SG, No.2 son and I drove for 16 hours to Thredbo and squeezed ourselves into a 2-room self-contained suite with a mountain view. A free shuttle bus took us to the slopes every day and the apartment-style hotel had lockers for skis and boots and a Scrabble set that guests could borrow. It was the last week of the season, so snow was a bit think on the ground and the air temperature was too high to run the snow-makers. But we had fun.

In case this seems too effusively positive to be sincere, especially coming from one so stroppy, let me assure you that I’m not being paid to talk up Thredbo.

I’m not very good at skiing and I fall over quite a lot, but I really, really like it. I like it for two reasons. First, when you’re going downhill you have to concentrate 100% on what you’re doing. If you start thinking about work or blocked drains or Syrian refugees you can end up wrapped around a tree.

Second, between mad downhill dashes and sprawling, undignified crashes, you have much longer periods ascending, above the slopes, on various kinds of lift. Then the mind can wander, undistracted by ’phones, emails, tweets or people.

Since I’m in the final stages of writing a book, these periods were invaluable to me. I wrote and re-wrote in my head. I considered different ways to tie up loose ends, iron out creases in the silk-smooth fabric of my narrative, make the characters more real and their dialogue more natural.

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