15 September 2006

The Comfortable One

BBC did a quiz a while back, asking readers what instrumental they'd take to a desert isle if they only had one choice. Usual stuff: the rippling keyboard of Horowitz, the sinuous Stradivarius of Oistrakh or Mehuhin.

My Auntie Vick voted for the human voice. Not the treble of Callas but the warmer timbres of Ferrier or Sutherland, said she'd need the sound of another human to remind her. Nice point.

If someone did the needful on me and banished the 'puter but left me one blog, I think I'd go for El Seditione.

I'd want to be kept off balance, that mix of learning and mountain man sheer bloody mindedness.

Biggie regret leaving WA state: Not being there to be fly on the wall - and I bet Ashers can tell me *exactly* what species to be - as his beaut daughter(s) (puella pondensia ) reach that age when unwary youths come calling.

Chortle. Yon Lion of the Night Krü is gone be some fatha to get one over on.

Then again, any daughter of his 'n' Julie's loins will be boxing clever herself, so it'll be a match of minds: thunder-brow pater versus foot-stamping babe.

Groucho: The 'tached one wouldn't join any club that would have *him* as a member. I always feel that Lord Sedition wouldn't want as a groveling friend anyone who slavers my kind of admiration.

Frankly, from this distance I don't care: He proposed marriage to THE best most worthwhile beautiful woman and she had the astonishing perceptiveness to say Yes, and they are my favouritest couple and their children are divine and when I hit the lottery, the first stop pilot Kosta makes is to collect them in my customized 747, deliver them to Kerkira airport where my customized chopper will airlift them to my poolside pad and I will hug that growly seditous mountain man and Mrs Sed will say "Hey what about me?" and I'll stammer 'Later, babe, first things first.'.

Cancel my table au Cirque de Soleil; I'll go for the candid camera corner ceiling chez Ashers.

I'm reminded of all this by his characteristically succinct Quinault post about the 'best bed', enhanced by my recent reading of Bill Bryson's account of his Walk in the Woods, them woods being the taxing Appalachian Trail.

I so loved his punchline I sent it to my gruff bro', swearing to use it asap.

"Not much point *you*", bounced the reply, "Mother's boy in lap of luxury. Me, I can use it everywhere I go, and will:

Poland, Sardinia, Nice ... I'm having it translated sans delay.

Great line. I'm constantly being ushered into sub-zero flea-ridden chambers where I bow and scrape and make a big to-do about pulling back the covers and then whip out the sleeping bag and nestle it over the more giving floorboards.

Best place to deliver it is my Scottish clients, but I don't know where to go for a decent translation."

I'm so not an outdoor type but in my youthier fitness I used to go down to stay with cousin Gethyn around Welsh Capel Curig and climb a rock or two.

I have a vertiginous head when it comes to heights so I never looked down. One climb, we'd got a way up and were resting on an outcrop, untangling our ropes and congratulating ourselves on a major feat.

Suddenly a hand appeared and up hauled a friendly face who secured his rope, accepted a cup of tea and then proceeded to lean to peer back down at what looked to be a 45 degrees angle at his companions. I felt sick just watching.

dougalDougal Haston: As PR honcho for Cassell publishers, I had the privilege to promote Dougal'sIn High Places.

On publication day, DH was up Mount Everest (pronounced Eve-Rest, please) being blown about by 300mph winds. They didn't make the ascent but the book was that month's best-seller in the UK charts.

Cassell had just been bought by an American bunch so we were swarmed with ignorant MBAs and crew-cut smartie-pants. I'd made the error of lunching an biggie name author and not taking him up to meet the Big Guy.>p>When Dougal checked in to the office I said we'd better go round to the Red Lion pub where the boss held forth and let me introduce him to the guy whose book was currently #1 on the charts.

Dougal shrugged and said he'd prefer to have a meat pie and Worthington White Shield someone less fancy but I was the boss.

Enter the Red Lion, el supremo holding forth, I move thru the fray with Dougal behind me, bent on intro to my Lord and Master as instructed.

"Fred? I'd like you to meet-"

Foiled. One of the chief's many minion minders has spotted me moving in on the big guy's oration, some hippy pal in tow, "Not now, Chris!".

Relieved, we left the pub and retired to the Venezia for fine nosh and jugs of Julia's chianti.

Coda: At one of the parties the mountaineers held, I espied a totally unfit looking bloke, belly hanging over his belt, and commented to Dougal "who's THAT ?"

"That's Don Whillans."

"But he's ... been on the climb ..."

"Listen ... we came to a rock we couldna handle. Don said stand aside you big girls' blouses, and up he chimneyed.

Aye, he looks like he's due to give birth, but he's the mon."

Dougal set up a mountaineering school in Switzerland ("Dangle with Dougal") and I heard he was buried 'neath an avalanche. Wiki has the facts but i don't read it. I took him round various interviews and there was a magnetism to the man that everyone felt.

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