Wednesday, August 29, 2012



I went hiking and climbing on the weekend along the Vale of Glamorgan coast, a place I know well from my youth. The cliffs are remarkable and it's an amazing place to look for fossils. It was the first time I had been back to haunted Dunraven Castle for decades. Almost nothing remains of the actual buildings but the large gardens are still there.

Halfway on the excursion I tore a muscle in my right calf. I was attempting to climb a steep slope too quickly and with too heavy a pack. I distinctly heard a twang as if a rubber band had snapped. It was not unmusical. Needless to say, I wasn't able to walk very easily afterwards. Indeed I had to hobble seven or eight miles on an improvised driftwood crutch all the way to Llantwit Major to catch a train home. Three days later my leg still twinges but is getting better fast. I was lucky the injury didn't happen somewhere even more inconvenient, such as on a rockface.

Such incidents remind me of the traditional sang-froid that British adventurers are supposed to demonstrate at all times, however adverse the conditions. I can manage convincing sang-froid for half a day, perhaps even a whole day; but how would I cope with the real rigours of a true daunting expedition? Not very well, I suspect. I will continue to admire the exploits of Tilman, Shipton, Thesiger, Doughty, Burton and other genuinely rugged men from a distance, several distances in fact: those of time, location, endurance and spirit. But even playing at heroics is better than sitting in a soft chair and turning mouldy, I feel.

Of course one does have to sit in a chair to get some writing done, unless one stands like Nabokov did... Anyway, I have been dreading this moment for decades... Yesterday morning I finished my 665th story, which means that the next one will be number 666!!! I'm going to crack on with it immediately to get it over with. Not that I'm superstitious or anything but... Story #666 will be about two climbers who can't go climbing outdoors because it's raining (Wales), so they decide to do some indoor climbing instead; inevitably they get stranded on the highest shelf of their kitchen and have to bivouac with the tins of beans while awaiting rescue. It's going to be called 'Left on the Shelf'.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]