Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fun with Bruce

Explorer Bruce Parry and his slightly less strong and slightly less fit mate were setting off on an expedition.

They were - in a television programme that I watched last night, though recorded a while ago - setting off to climb a mountain that nobody had ever climbed, fifteen and a half thousand feet, in a remote part of the middle of nowhere in Papua New Guinea, somewhere to the north of Australia.

To get there, firstly they had to canoe along miles of river, avoiding being swept away or eaten by crocodiles. Then they went into country where there were very remote tribes, suspected of still being cannibals. The local porters didn't want to go with them and just one chap agreed to go. We could hear the others saying "because, Bruce, you're BONKERS" in several different languages.

So, carrying 90lbs each, they set off through the impenetrable jungle. Although Bruce Parry has a good track record of befriending remote tribes, this time he kept meeting people who looked at him sternly, pointed a bow and arrow at him and said "and if you're not out of here by tomorrow, you're DEAD."

Bruce's Slightly Less Fit Mate nearly got washed over a waterfall and got trench foot where all the skin on his feet rotted. He grumbled about the weight of his pack and I didn't blame him in the least. Bruce kept on smiling cheerily as they forded flooded rivers and hacked their way through vegetation and sank into swamps.

They found a friendly tribe and took all their kit off and dressed in the local male dress of - - well, to be frank - - not a lot, just a gourd to cover what used to be known as Wedding Tackle. Bruce's Slightly Less Fit Mate grumbled that Bruce's equipment was so large that they had to get a special gourd to fit - an old, blackened gourd that had been kicking around in the huts for years because it didn't fit anyone. Bruce wore it proudly and smiled a lot.

Bruce's Slightly Less Fit and Much Less Well-Endowed Mate said politely that it wasn't always easy to get on with your friends on an expedition like this.

They ran out of food and some locals hunted them some strange small mammals. "It's really tough" said Bruce, cheerily, crunching on a claw. We didn't hear the reply from Ravenous, Slightly Less Fit and Much Less Well-Endowed Mate.

By now they had both lost squillions of pounds in weight and looked positively skinny. All that was left of Bruce was his smile (and presumably, his huge Wedding Tackle).

Of course it had been incredibly hot and humid but then they got to the mountain and it was really cold. Their ropes were for crossing rivers, not climbing mountains, so they had to climb the huge, vertical face of the mountain with no ropes.

We didn't get much film of the actual mountain climb because they were a bit busy all the time, trying not to fall off. At one point they dropped a pebble and heard it bounce - - and bounce - - and bounce. Finally, however, they struggled to the top.

We didn't hear much from Bruce's Mate, probably because he was too busy gasping in the thin air.

But Bruce, of course, was his usual ebullient self, and what Bruce said, in his usual cheery way, with his usual happy smile, was this:

"I knew it would be an interesting expedition, but I didn't know that I was going to have so much fun on the way!"


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Spare a thought for the camera and sound guys. So often these sort of programmes give the illusion that the "star" or "stars" were doing it on their own.

10:02 pm  
Anonymous Shooting Parrots said...

I'm really sorry I missed that one, it sounds a hoot. Perhaps I can catch it on i-Player or whatever. One question though -- who's Bruce Parry?

9:53 pm  

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