A lazy Sunday afternoon.

10 Jun

What to do? The choice is wide, depending on your interests and energy. Watch Euro 2012, watch the Grand Prix, play golf, go for walk, hit the pub for lunch, sail, cycle garden, decorate, chores…  What a choice.

There are those within our societies who are “active”, they run and keep fit and never sit still. There are others in a much more minority group who have things they want to do which are well outside normal activities. They want climb, swim, ski, walk dive in the most extreme of circumstances which proves them to be heroes in the shape of Captain Scott, David Livingstone, Edmund Hillary et all. The list is long and the deeds are huge.

The trouble is most things have been done by now. The South/North Poles and Everest are pretty busy places. People have crossed or climbed up them in various ways using various routes in different levels of technological support or not. It’s all getting a bit Guinness Book of Records really. Think of something really daft, which no one has done before, and claim a record.

Only a few days ago we had news of a lady who was rowing across the Pacific although no one said what she was specifically doing it for and under what conditions. The Japanese RNLI rescued her, which I’m sure she was glad about. There have been a rash of people walking, skiing and canoeing across the Arctic whilst highlighting the loss of the icecap due to global warming. Their plans and their attempts failed because they’d believed that the Arctic was warming, when in fact, it wasn’t. They had to rely on people rescuing them, people had to risk their necks to pick these people up.

Pen Hadow organised a particularly naïve attempt. His group aimed to measure the thickness of the ice over a prescribed route which didn’t take into account the ice drift and general movement so they ended up pretty much going in circles and hardly making any progress at all. Yes they were rescued and yes their measurements were less than useless.

There are also the survivalists, who have their own programmes. Men like Bear Grylls, Ray Mears, etc. etc. They are made of sterner stuff. They can do stuff. They show you stuff they think is impressive on their TV shows. Bear, for example demonstrated that if you are dying of thirst in the plains of Africa you can squeeze out elephant dung and drink it. Yes he did this on TV. He had the decency to say it was pretty horrible but not as horrible as seeing it on your TV in your lounge.

I’m not disputing that it’s good advice and could well save your life but it’s not really that much use when you live in the middle of a city. If you feel suddenly thirsty you can pop through to kitchen and get a glass of pretty reasonable water. If you happen to be out and the temperature is on the high side you can pop into a range of establishments and purchase a tasty and refreshing beverage of your choice.

If you were really pushed you could get a bus to the Zoo. Pay a lot of money to get in, climb the hill to the elephant house and ask one of the keepers for a piece of elephant dung. He’d immediately offer you as many wheelbarrows full as you like. Sorted!

I’d guess that the daring survivalists and the explorers do things with the best of intent and if it makes them look like heroes that’s a side benefit. Why are so many of them public school educated with Mummies and Daddies who have loads of dosh though?

Is it the lauding of the likes of Scott that makes them want to do these things? It’s not like they achieve anything? Last year a boy with this type of background was tragically killed by a polar bear whilst he was in his tent sleeping. He was on a school trip with a number of other school friends when this occurred. A bit more grand than school camp, the Highland Show, The Zoo, Falklands Palace, the open air swimming pool at St Andrews and the like that I enjoyed.

If these people want to do daring things that’s fine go do it, just don’t think that they’re going to impress many people when you do. They have other things to think about like keeping a roof over their heads, feeding their children and keeping them in school shoes etc.

Now that’s a real challenge!


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