Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Why was he born at all?

I’ve had four near-death experiences. Technology was significant in three; absence of technology caused the fourth.
CLOSE KISS ONE Aged six or seven, I caught meningitis. Previously it would have been the Kiss of Death or being left as a vegetable, preferably not an aubergine. Luckily M&B sulfanilamide had just been invented and I lived on, my mental capacities only slightly diminished. Before, I was on course to be a genius.
CLOSE KISS TWO Unable to cure my athlete’s foot, the RAF flew me back from Singapore to Blighty as a CASEVAC (casualty evacuation). We took off in heavy rain from Negombo in what was then Ceylon. At a point close to no-return the pilot knew we weren’t going to make it and slammed on the brakes. The jungle loomed. This was 1957 when planes crashed a lot.
CLOSE KISS THREE Riding my motorbike down a steep hill, with the whole of my LP collection stuffed in the front of my raincoat, I met a car (the make of which I shamefully cannot recall) across the road, hit it amidships, somersaulted over the top, and not an LP was scratched.
CLOSE KISS FOUR I embarked on a solo ascent of a route called Fairy Steps (rated Very Difficult) which I had climbed before. A flake of rock weighing perhaps a ton and which had supported many other climbers over decades, broke off, broke in two and fell with my unroped body into a narrow gulley to form a Bonden sandwich.
OBSERVATIONS (1) No previous-life flashes. (2) No curses. (3) No Arghhhh. (4) I was being saved to write this blog.

PS: My brother, having read this post, sent me a photo of the Fairy Steps climb before the I unwittingly modified the route.


Sir Hugh said...

I bet this post brings forth some stories so I’m getting mine in first.

In Glen Etive, last year, I was crossing a mountain stream raging steeply down a mountain side. It was in spate. I slipped and shot off at speed down a polished rock slab water slide for about fifty feet. I was heading for a thirty foot vertical thunderous waterfall I had seen on my way up. The waterfall terminated in a heaving pulsating pool of wild yellow foam with steep rock walls all the way round and the outlet leading to rapids and further minor waterfalls.

The only thought I can remember was saying to myself “well, I suppose this is it”. The force of water had created a deep rock bowl just before the waterfall and I found myself looking over the rim of this bowl and straight down the waterfall. This would have made a good photo from an angle not many people could have achieved, but unfortunately my camera had not taken kindly to this adventure.

The Crow said...

Very glad you are still with us, BB.


marja-leena said...

5) and given material to blog about! Glad you are around to tell us about all those close kisses. Think you will make it to nine?

Julia said...

Close kiss 4 leaves me wanting to know more - how did you extract yourself from the sandwich? And did the flake save your life by wedging you into the gulley so that you didn't fall? Sounds very John Buchanesh!

Barrett Bonden said...

Sir Hugh: Your Close Kiss was more prolonged than mine, allowing you to come up with a partial valedictory reaction. I'd describe your state of mind as "dully philosophical" which just shows how reality makes a poor basis for fiction.

The Crow/M-L: All four events occurred long before computers (for public consumption) were available. So I was "being spared" not only to provide a post that might interest someone, but also for the eventual development of a form of technology. Another example of my life being bound up with computers. Make it to 9? Well, I have something rather out of the ordinary planned for today. Will post.

Julia: You know I think we could have worked together, but only as journalistics equals. Curiosity - my only real talent; in your case one of many. Here's how it was:

The gully narrowed until the two walls converged. One half of the rock flake continued dropping until it finally became jammed; I arrived on top of that and the second half arrived on top of me. Or rather on top of my legs. So most of my body dangled outward held between the two slabs which were far too heavy (and seemingly immovable, anyway) for me to shift. Happily my plight had been observed. A rope was lowered into the gully, tied round the upper slab, a group of youths hauled on the rope, dislodging it just sufficiently for me to wriggle my legs out. My thighs were horribly bruised and the excitement ended anticlimactically by my having to drive home in my Bond Minicar (It's worth blogging an image of the latter as proof that tragedies - or a near-tragedy in this case - always contain elements of farce).

Occasional Speeder said...

After being swept out into the Atlanic Ocean off the coast of Brazil, I realised I had no chance of fighting the current and gave up. (No flashes of previous life either..)However once a lifeguard appeared shouting instructions, I temporarily found the ability to perfectly understand Portugese - for the space of 3 or 4 minutes I was fluent. Once dry land was reached and several pints of sea water excavated from my body, I found,alas, I could not understand anything other than "Obrigado" again..

Plutarch said...

While on a working holiday in South Africa, I was put off swimming in the sea, by mountainous waves in Capetown, and further north along the coast. Also by reminders about sharks. At last in a small town I found a beach with a rocky outcrop upon which a chain-linked set of concete posts had been built, indicating, so I thought, safe bathing. The sea inside the little lagoon was calm. I plunged in and swam out to the barrier, with surprising ease. The ease was explained by the power of the current which nearly pulled me over the rocks and into the ocean. I tried to swim back to the beach but I could do nothing but suspend my arms over the chain and hang on. Very uncomfortable. Being rescued is a lot less satisfactory than effecting a rescue. In this instance, it was lot more than satisfactory, but it was not easily achieved. A powerful swimmer came first with some sort of lifebelt, but he could not get back either,with or without mein tow, so both of us were stuck. Eventually another swimmer appeared with one end of a length of rope, and all three of us were hauled in by a gang of sturdy local lads. I still feel guilty about the trouble I caused and there is a gnawing sense of failure at not being able to exricate myself from the results of my own rash behaviour. Nothing to boast about.

Rouchswalwe said...

Most of my close kisses involved moving vehicles, icy highways, mountain passes, and crowded, narrow Japanese roads. Several occurred whilst driving in a 1973 Pontiac Catalina (next to the driver, three more people were able to fit in the front seat). I've never experienced such a feeling of invincibility in any other vehicle.

Barrett Bonden said...

OS: There is a biblical precedent for your experience. I believe the eleven disciples (by now minus Judas, who'd been given his second written warning) were "visited with tongues" following the Resurrection. There is no suggestion that their multi-lingualism lasted any longer than it did for you.

Plutarch: There is a serious disadvantage about being rescued from a Close Kiss. Unfairly, you feel a fool. Or perhaps this only happens to the English.

Lucy said...

My granny nearly died from a rosethorn but was saved by the timely location of M&B 693, still on clinical trials but inveigled out of the doctors concerned by my valiant SRN mother. Or so family legend has it.

I am unable to recall any episode sufficiently entertaining in my life that nearly entailed the leaving of it, but I'm sorry to say I did laugh aloud at the prospect of you, nearly paraplegic, driving home in a Bond minicar. If you had been worse injured you may have been consigned to one for life,as I recall there was a particulalrly lethal pale turquoise version which was the prescription death trap for the handicapped for some years...

Also consider, you nearly died from athlete's foot, which must be unusual.

And, in view of both Plutarch's swimming anecdote and your climbing one, should we not give thanks for brawny youths at the end of ropes?

Glad your still here, anyway!

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: I was hoping someone would respond to the Bond minicar reference and you done me proud. But M&B as well! Me and your gran.

Entertainment is where you manufacture it. Dying of athlete's foot is a far better interpretation of the Negombo episode where the imminent dying-from-a-mouthful-of-palm-tree would have been rather predictably macho.

I was sorry to hear Plutarch's revelation and to hear he's no longer in love with the sea. He was at Perros Guirec of which you've heard both of us tell.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): Sorry, missed you out of sequence. I remember talking about cars with reactionary Americans. None would contemplate a European car, arguing they were too small and would leave you vulnerable ina crash. But when a long boatlike Chevy Impala hits an equally lengthy Cadillac Eldorado... well, we can all do the maths. What a cosy time you must have had, four abreast in your Pontiac Catalina. Named after an island off the California coast, of course, but for me a fragile, ungainly sea-plane used in WW2 for reconnaissance and sea rescue, surely not quite the dashing image Pontiac had in mind. The only odder American car designation was the Cadillac Calais - obviously christened by someone who had never been to that unexceptional Channel town.