Friday, February 27, 2009

Neither mirth nor woe: Who dares wins

Neither mirth nor woe: Who dares wins

As I steal from the Danny Baker show, so I return. This time its a remix of an old tale of woe, thrashed into shape to satisfy two of his current themes: 'Out of control' and 'Things of Which We No Longer Speak'. So mote it be.

As a dreadful student, I went on a summer hiking trip to Wales with half-a-dozen mates, essentially as a way of getting very, very drunk whilst living in a tent.

On the second day, we climbed one of the Brecon Beacons in the pouring rain, the plan being to go over the top and spend a restful evening in a friendly pub where we were hoping to get absolutely plastered in the tradtional manner.

Two thirds of the way to the top, and completely exhausted, we abandoned it as a poor idea and sat on a rock, getting our breath back and deciding whether to return to our base camp and sleep for a week.

Bored, I started tossing small stones down the mountainside, to see how far they would go.

You can see where this is heading: After a few minutes of this activity, I selected a large (about 18 inches across), round disc of stone, and heaved it down the side of the mountain.

And down it went, completely out of control, sheep, hikers and horses all fleeing from its path as it hurtled towards them with deadly intent.

Then, coming round a bend in the path the best part of a mile away, was a squad from a certain Hereford-based elite army regiment, out on a high-powered, heavily-armed mountain training session.

I still remember the look of horror on their faces as the spinning rock o' doom hurtled towards them, the silent mouthing of expletives, and the chaotic dive for cover – like so many skittles – as they narrowly escaped with their lives.

I bet they never see that kind of woe in Helmand Province.

Eventually, the rock clattered into a dry-stone wall several miles away with a resounding explosion of rock-on-rock. I was the only member of our group who thought it funny, and I cried and cried in laughter at the misfortune and chaos I had caused.

The rest of my so-called pals were hell-bent on handing me straight to the fuming squaddies – who were now pointing weapons up the mountainside in a way that could only mean that pain was mere minutes away - and send me to an uncertain future as the regimental goat.

That night, huddled around a roaring campfire, and the Super SAS out for blood, we vowed NEVER TO SPEAK OF THIS THING AGAIN.

I have broken this vow.

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