Miles is the sprightliest 79 year-old Brit I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He behaves decades younger than he really is, walks around with a bounce in his step and does everything that everyone under the age of 30 can do without much difficulty, toughing it out when it’s needed. The crisp London accent is still so very evident after living in New York for 36 years and talking to him is a little like talking to Michael Palin with a wicked, sharper edge (or on steroids) which can often serve as a highlight for the day – a hilarious instance being his incredulous reaction to a group of Asian tourists dressed in cold-weather jumpsuits which he termed ‘spacesuits’ and promptly called them ‘astronauts bouncing around town’.
He was predictably the first to arrive at 8.45 am for the dog sledge activity and was extremely happy to find out that there would be an Inuit driver for the sledge he was going to be on.
“Oh, of course there will be a driver,” said the customer service representative with exaggerated patience after his show of relief.
“That’s good then. I thought we’d have to drive the sleds ourselves, thinking I might turn the sled over or something! Now I can just sit behind and look…imperious,” Miles proclaimed with satisfaction.
We decked ourselves in seal skin and looking like Michelin men, went south of town where the dogs were kept. Our driver came roaring in with his pack of Greenlandic hounds and off we went, half-slouching in the sled with legs extended, flying straight onto the frigid, snow-decked plains carried only by the power of furry little paws. Halfway through, a sled with overly-excited dogs got lost halfway when the dogs decided to take a merry ride of their own, stranding the poor tourist who had to share the remaining seat with 2 other persons.
Miles was effusively excited even though it as obvious he was freezing in the air, having only rented the snow shoes but not the seal skin clothing and got concerned with the welfare of the dogs when he thought they could be treated a lot better than they currently were.
We laughed and said goodbye as he wandered off to buy trinkets for his grandchildren. We took a last turn around town, heaped praise on the pretty sights and worried about the kind of trinkets we needed to bring back.
I bumped into Miles again at dinner and learned that his only entertainment for the rest of the night was “Ex on the beach”, a show on MTV so abysmally awful (‘incredibly bad’ in his words) that it was fascinating.
I think I’m going to miss him a lot when we finally say goodbye.