Ray Mears, what a bloke. Nobody warned us that you should be survival-trained to sit through his talk.
He’s The Don when it comes to bushcraft, which is the art of living – not surviving, he pointed out, subtle difference apparently – in the wilderness. The bit about The Don must be true because Bruce Parry said so.
Ray’s been all over the world surviving in the harshest environments but has he ever tried surviving the night in a locked NCP car park? Has he ever known the brutal exposure of queuing for a 25 sofa in the DFS January sale? Frankly, I don’t believe he’s faced enough urban challenges yet to be the complete all-rounder.
Anyway, his talk, fascinating though it was, lasted three and a half hours without a break for refreshments!!
Sorry but I just don’t have the stamina. While I am blessed with natural cushioning against pressure sores, some of the outdoorsy types around me were shifting uncomfortably in their seats while not wishing to make it apparent that they were in any discomfort whatsoever. Oh no.
By the time he got to Mongolia, about three-quarters of the way through the talk, we in Row Q were eyeing up the guy sitting on the aisle – a Johnny-Vegas look-alike with wonderfully meaty thighs – wondering if we could build a small barbecue with my nail file, mirror, a few tissues and a flurry of credit card receipts.
Surely it couldn’t be that difficult to make a small fire by rubbing a couple of pencils together ? Such ingenuity would undoubtedly win the admiration of the Mearsmeister.
Thirst was something else. While drinking your own urine is to be commended, in desperate straits, it proved difficult to access without disturbing the enjoyment of those sitting around me. Can’t speak for those shifting around noisily back in row ZZ though. God knows what they were up to. They were in the dark and they probably couldn’t hear so no doubt they were busy ensuring continuation of the species.
I am proud to report that, when he finished his excellent talk, I was not one of those wimpy desperados who scuttled for the doors and fled into the night seeking meat and drink. I remained and listened to questions and answers very politely and did not exit until the proper time.
Consequently my tongue felt like best Axminster by the time I took delivery of a reviving Jack Daniels at the bar. Reckon Ray will send me a survival certificate? I think that would be only fair. Unless of course, he considered that I failed by ignoring the First Rule of Survival: Always Carry Emergency Rations. You never know when you’ll need ’em.