It will not have passed the brighter members of the congregation’s notice that Phil & I will not have the pleasure of Mr Walker’s excellent company on the TGO Challenge this year. In the past few years the blighter has lost eight stone in weight. For our American cousins, a stone is a quaint English measurement, comprising fourteen English pounds. (And that’s lbs, not £s.) Andy achieved the astonishing transformation from lard-arse to racing snake by consuming just twenty grains of rice & a small portion of lettuce, with prunes for pudding every day for three years.
To cut a long story short, the bounder now bounds up mountains, leaving Lord Elpus and I, who have perfectly honed southern-softy, couch potato physiques, floundering in his wake. Now he will be free to float along the terrifyingly vertiginous peaks whilst Phil and I will be plodding and ploughing our furrows through the gloopiest of Highland bogs known to man.
But this abandonment left our intrepid team with a problem; Neither Phil nor I are the sharpest navigators on the planet, so how were we to find our way across Scotland? Mr Walker tried to help by flogging Phil his satellite navigation device loaded with Her Majesty’s mapping. Well, it was a good idea, but as you will have gathered from Phil’s recent trip to the Pyrenees, it all came to naught. Fortunately Phil’s errant route-finding was corrected by his Brother-in-law, David, who steered our lost soul back onto the correct track.
It was all looking desperate for our duo, when all of a sudden, in one bound we were free!
CLICK TO ENLARGE EACH PIC [TOP LEFT - BROTHER DAVE, TOP RIGHT - RICHARD WHITE, BOTTOM LEFT – PHIL, THEN ME]
We are now to be joined for our first four days by Dr White of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Richard is a chap who knows his way around the world. Indeed, he has already successfully steered me across Scotland in 1996 and 1998 and helped out heavily for a couple of stints on my LEJOG in 2007.
We are then to be left dangerously alone to find our way across the Monadh Liath and thence to the Cheese & Wine Party, which begs the question - Will we ever make it to our own party?
Fortunately my Brother Dave then collects us at Ballater to escort us over Mount Keen to Tarfside. For the last God-knows-how-many-years Dave has lived in Yorkshire and has successfully negotiated his way over Ilkley Moor without a whippet. This is the chap who gave me one of his kidneys, and so I am sure he is only coming along to ensure that I won’t die a horrible premature death alone on some terrible Scottish Mountain, after having gone to all the bother of saving my miserable skin once already.
So there we have it. We will not be alone. Two wonderful chaps will be guiding and nudging us to our destination. If you bump into this incredible pair this year, please buy them a pint. They’ll deserve it.