Monday, 3 November 2008

Thursday October 30th

Rather than go into any great depth about Thursday's events, I will instead record, verbatim, a conversation I had with my wife. It was the evening of an uneventful/typical day. I sat on the left hand side of the big sofa to watch television, with my wife seated on the right hand side.

The television programme in question was 'Last Man Standing', a reality show, naturally, in which British and American sportsmen contest in a variety of bizarre sporting rituals around the globe. The participants in the programme compete against each other, and native experts, until, one-by-one, they are eliminated, leaving the series winner as the eponymous 'Last Man Standing'.

In Thursday's episode the contestants found themselves in the Himalyas. Their physical challenge was to each take a 20kg 'Prayer Stone' to a holy place high in the mountains and once there, present it to the monk who lives there. The winner was a local man, a Sherpa, who completed the course in under two hours. The programme's contestants took between three and a half and seven hours. I was, in equal parts, impressed at the contestants achievement in completing the course and incredulous at their stupidity in embarking upon it in the first place.

The conversation,

Mike: They must be fit, those Sherpas.
Wife: Yes.
Mike: Like those donkey sh-t men in Lindos.*
Wife: Yes. (Pause) Who are those other people in the world?
Mike: What do you mean?
Wife: The British ones.
Mike: I don't know what you're talking about.
Wife: Yes you do.
Mike: No, I don't.
Wife: Oh yeah, that's it. The SAS.
Mike: The SAS?
Wife: Yeah.
Mike: What are you on about?
Wife: Well they're fit aren't they?
Mike: Yes.
Wife: Well they're the same sort of thing.
Mike: Not really. I can't imagine the Sherpas ending the Iranian Embassy siege.
Wife: Yeah, but they're soldiers too.
Mike: No they're not.
Wife: Yes they are. They're those foreign soldiers in the British Army.
Mike: No, they're Ghurkas.
Wife: What are Sherpas then?
Mike: They're a Nepalese people, known for being excellent mountain guides.
Wife: Are they?
Mike: Yes.
Wife: Well why are they called Sherpas then?
Mike: I don't know. That's just what they're called.
Wife: So what was Sherpa Tenzing?
Mike: Well, Sherpa Tenzing was a Sherpa. Called Tenzing. He led Hillary up Everest.
Wife: Well how come it's not called 'Mount Tenzing' then?
Mike: It's not called 'Mount Hillary' either.
Wife: Yeah, but why didn't they just call him 'Tenzing'?
Mike: Because he was known as Sherpa Tenzing.
Wife: Yeah, but what was his first name, Ten?
Mike: No. His first name was Tenzing.
Wife: No, Ten was his first name, Zing was his last name.
Mike: No it wasn't. His last name was Norgay.
Wife: Anyway I didn't mean that. I meant George Everest.

I regularly have conversations of this kind with my wife. After our dialogue, I always have to lie and promise that I won't tell anyone about it. Henceforth, I will further betray my wife's trust, by endeavouring to share any future pearls of wisdom with the readership of this blog.

* The beautiful town of Lindos in Rhodes, which we visited last summer, is built on, and around, an extinct volcano. There is a wonderful medieval castle at the summit. This can be reached by walking up an ancient cobbled path. Alternatively, if you are an American family whose mean weight is over 250lbs, it can be accessed by exhausted donkey. Two local men are employed to follow these donkeys, from the town centre, to the castle, and back again. They must make the return trip at least thirty times a day, in thirty five degree heat. As they travel, they pick up the donkey's droppings in a home made scoop, fashioned from a recycled biscuit tin and a broom handle. Both of these men seemed inexplicably happy with their lot in life.

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