Tag Archives: survival

Aw Crusoe and Little Friday

A classic question, revisited: what are the five items you must have on a deserted island?

I assume this would be over and above basics such as food, fresh water, shelter, blankets, a couple of changes of clothing, etc. If Little Witness was on board with me, he would have to be one of the items, as I’m not leaving him to sink beneath the waves.

Second, I’d want a fully-charged iPad so I can tell somebody I fetched up on this little island… no I don’t know the co-ordinates, but we were on our way to some place… sorry, I thought I heard a noise but it was just a coconut dropping. Let me move out from under this palm tree. OK, bye.

While waiting in comfort for help to arrive, I would study the environment and wonder about the other three things I really should have with me.

A good book would be a boon. You would think my Kindle would be suitable as it has a fair-sized library on it, but battery power on this island is a non-renewable resource. I would be better off with a long and engrossing paperback… perhaps The Memoirs of Cleopatra (Margaret George) or a Lymond novel by Dorothy Dunnett. The first Hornblower book would be a good choice from a nautical point of view, or (better yet) the full set of Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian.

Are you sure I can’t have them all? Dorothy Dunnett then, as it’s years since I last read any.

From the Wikipedia:

The six volumes follow the life and career of the charismatic Francis Crawford of Lymond, the younger son of the Crawfords of Culter, members of the landed aristocracy of the Scottish Lowlands. Brought up according to the Renaissance ideal of an educated autodidact, he is a polyglot, knowledgeable in literature, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences, a practitioner of all the martial arts, a spell-binding musician, a talented thespian, and a master strategist with a genius for imaginative tactics.

Two more items?

A stationery set. I insist that counts as one item and will include paper, pens, pencils, ruler, eraser and sharpener. Then I can blog to you about what it’s like sitting on a desert island waiting for somebody to come. I wouldn’t be able to publish my adventure till later, but it would give me something to do. If there are colour pencils in there too, I could draw geckos and beetles, pretending I’m a female version of Stephen Maturin.

How many items is that? Four. I need one more.

A nice big chunky bar of chocolate comes to mind, refusing to be dismissed, especially if I can keep it cool and the ants don’t get to it. I’d eat it slowly while reading the Dorothy Dunnett novel, and the rescue boat would arrive just as I polished off the last piece.

Provided no lives were lost, that would be a good day.

‘Today,’ said Lymond, ‘if you must know, I don’t like living at all. But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure. Tomorrow I’ll be bright as a bedbug again.’

― Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights

Rebellious Bramble

Mood: Angry
Listening to: My sap rising

I’ve just realized that I’ve been in a bit of a cynical frame of mind today. Maybe for a few days in fact. Yes, definitely for a few days. Maybe even a few years, or a decade or two.

This must be something that catches up with all bloggers eventually. Or maybe it has nothing to do with blogging at all.

For the past few days when reading online news articles, my only reaction was to snort to myself. “12 year old runs off to Pakistan without leave? Her poor mother. 18 year old resurfaces in Austria and won’t have her family round her? Well I’ll try to understand… but her poor mother! Councils want to be allowed to charge for non-recyclable rubbish – they say its purely so we are galvanized into recycling more. Well, I’ve been trying to recycle my paper for months but they only come round every two weeks at 07:00 hours, and I never remember in time. I don’t put my bin out the night before because I don’t want it to block the pavement. Council in Edinburgh tries to pinch people’s residential parking bays and sell them back to them? I don’t trust councils or bureaucrats. It’s very sad.”

And then there are all the people who post rubbish and insults at the foot of news articles and don’t seem to have anything sensible to say.

I get a letter from my gas company saying “oops – we put the price up without telling you.” All I can think is “what am I still doing with them anyway?”

Royal Mail decides to charge by size as well as weight, throwing everything into disarray and causing confusion. I don’t want to use Royal Mail again – how can I avoid it? It’s just the way I feel. I want nothing to do with them now! Maybe I’m too old and set in my ways.

Seem to remember reading …. oh, it was in Ask Mamma by R.S. Surtees – that people were horrified at the idea of pre-paid postage, and did everything in their power to avoid using the postal service at all. Well, now I know how they felt.

On TV, an airport employee was chasing away a cloud of starlings because they were dangerous to planes. The planes were delayed till the birds were gone. The Chief Bird Scarer said “every second that the planes stay on the ground costs thousands.” The whole idea tires me. Why not let the starlings fly where they like and ban these expensive metal and fuel things? Why can’t we all stay were we live and make the best of it? If we have to go anywhere, it should be by foot or by hoof.

Then (in another programme which I forget the name of) there was the guy who says you have to prove to your would-be employers that you’re a peach, not a lemon. Why? And is there really anybody who’s completely one thing or the other? There are so many grey areas… and when the sober suited executive says “we are looking for employees with self-confidence,” you wonder what happens to all the people who have very little self-confidence or different ways of looking at things? Don’t tell me that they have to pull their socks up and catch up with the others – life is far more complicated than that, and self-confidence… well it’s hard to measure. Being a confident salesman is one thing, out there making good money for yourself and your company, in some cases making other people’s lives a misery. Being confident in the way you think about life and what you see as its real needs and priorities is something else. Not everything is about money, and not everything is about being peaches and extroverts. That’s not a world worth living in.

I did get a bit of joy when the ‘peach or lemon’ presenter suggested to a boy (who probably wasn’t particularly wealthy) that he pay someone to listen to his tape, and if they didn’t like it, they keep the money; but if they did like it, they give him a recording contract or something of the kind. And the boy said with astonishment “but they’ll cash the cheque and not listen to the tape!” and marched off with his eyebrows beetling. Of course they will. Jeez.

It’s not just everybody else you’re questioning. You look around your own home and think sadly about the things you took for granted when younger and the things you bought that you didn’t need. The things you thought you wanted that you never used. The things you meant to do but instead you sit watching TV shows about how the very birds are told where they can or can’t go. But it can be a hard routine to break, and sometimes all you feel like doing is hiding your head under a blanket and pretending you don’t exist and that nobody will come and demand that you post letters using a new system or pay increased gas bills or prove to them (preferably at own monetary and mental health risk) that you’re a peach and not a lemon.

I’m tired.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted by Blogigo.

Tony wrote at Sep 2, 2006 at 04:07:
Hey there,That’s one hell of a rant.
I suppose we all feel like a bit of a black mood every now and again.
Good for you. 🙂

Thanks for including me in some rarified company (rebecca blood). Just noticed your blog — a tip of that hap to your regularity. That’s one hell of a run you’re on (almost daily for how long?)

Cheers and keep up the good work
Tony @ DJI (Deep Jive Interests)

Diddums wrote at Sep 2, 2006 at 10:10:

I dread to think :-). I take a break now and then.
It’s funny how much better you do feel after a big rant; it cleared the air in a way my last few posts didn’t. I suppose it was building up for a while, and at first it doesn’t really occur to you to share it.

Pete wrote at Sep 2, 2006 at 17:06:
I was cynical long before I was a blogger.
Diddums my dear you are always assured a few quacks from me 🙂