‘Out of the blue and into the black, they give you this but you paid for that.” – Neil Young
Strange start to the day. I dreamed that Mark E Smith had died in the early hours, then my drunken neighbour’s headboard started to knock on the wall again. Another alcohol-fuelled masturbation alone in the dead of night.
Then the news this morning: a team of women are about to walk to the South Pole. This is an incredible feat and worthy of either praise or derision. They’d dressed them up in little pink jackets like the female gang from Grease. It didn’t suit them. They were doing two hours of training a day in Norway; a group of female British army soldiers, all organisation and clipped speech with few vowels. The reporter looked cold, but out of all the questions he could drill down to, all he wanted to know was how they’d go for a crap out there in the snow. I’d never considered it.
“We build a little wall, then a hole,” one of them said, “then we scoop up the poo in a bag and carry it with us.”
What? Had I heard that right? Three months of scooping up your shit into bags and then carrying it along like Santa until you finally get rescued. What happens then to the shit? Jesus Christ…. These things play on my mind. Eight women pulling sedges full of their own shit is not an image to stay with you if you want to enjoy your day.
I imagine that the realities of walking for months in a blizzard are worse than the magical story sold to the participant on expedition sign-up day. Polar Bears and nuclear submarines are in the north, leopard seals and UFOs in the south. And always the freezing cold. Nobody needs that kind of challenge. Not me, anyhow. There is no fun in sleeping outside where the wind howls and where a thin layer of nylon won’t stop nature if she really wants your blood. The frozen wastes are littered with the bodies of goofy explorers who tried desperately to prove they weren’t failures in life, generally. I have the edge over them in that respect: I realise I’m a failure and I can accept that fact. It’s knowledge like that which has kept me alive so far and out of the jaws of an eight hundred pound Polar Bear.
The day is breaking now. Dawn is here. I’ll be walking today, too. No shitting into a bag for me. My walking is prescribed by my Psychologist. It’s a time honoured way of creating the right chemicals in your brain and of not dying from apathy. I’m sure there’s plenty of research about it somewhere. What’ll happen today is anyone’s guess. I’ll start out with good intentions and, if I’m not careful, I’ll end up trying to have a fight with anyone and everyone, or hurting myself. The least that could happen is carrying my own shit behind me – which, of course, metaphorically speaking I do.
The savage owls have stopped screaming in my garden, the sun is up. Might even be a nice day. Walk carefully out there, my friends.