Tuesday, October 14, 2008

7: A Timely Reminder

By the time it gets to half way through the month, I've got to recognise that this missive has blown its schedule ... I apologise to my regular readers, but normal service will be resumed in November.

True to form, the financial crisis was holding its breath till I took my belated and ill planned vacation. So my lone 100ml back-packing sojourn from South to North Devon [1] across two major Moors and a large swathe of Devon countryside was continually interrupted by 'what shall we do' phone calls from Gordon and Alistair (Noo not them; they don't listen!). You see the 21C accompanies me into my wilderness; my mobile phone, my GPS, my LED torch, energy food, lightweight tent and sleeping bag ... I couldn't leave home without them.

But clearly the Gods were againgst me frittering away these important days, so arranged for nature to intervene. So after four days and around 60mls I aborted, got on a train and was home in a couple of hrs. Not quite the failed conquest of Everest I know, but the same principle.

... I had been out in quite abysmal Autumn weather, including a two day stretch across wildest Dartmoor. I had camped in the wilderness for four nights constrained by the shortening days to spend 12 hrs laying in a dark space little bigger than a coffin. It had been a trial to keep warm and dry but I was managing. Strange then, that the the turning point came at 3am in the beer garden of a Pub at Morchard Bishop. I was well fed and watered this night but it was very dark and cold, the rain was torrential and my light-weight tent was promising make for Kansas at the next gust. Querying my still warm phone produced an extreme weather warning for the next two days ... days that would find me on the Exmoor wilderness and very vulnerable. It is 'interesting' to find yourself in the position where only a thin synthetic membrane separates you from quite extreme discomfort and possibly harm, in the relatively civilised back-garden of Devon ... so I chose the logical option.

But it does make you think: Of the amazing achievement that is a house; which with little maintenance will keep all that hostility away from fragile 'you' for over a hundred years. And of the amazing robustness of animals (Especially of the Cows, Sheep and Ponies on the Moors); who watch you walk encumbered through their living space, simply not noticing the expressions of elemental force around them that would kill unprepared humans.

Undoubtedly that lack of innate robustness lead us to "thinking" and "tools" as a way of survival. But whilst today we perceive we are masters of the universe; it is well to remember we are in fact very small and very fragile once our comforts are removed. Humanity has achieved a lot; but we do still live in mud huts, and eat plants and animals.

So maybe the real upheaval caused by the financial crisis is that it reveals how insubstantial all our achievements really are, and how easily the most established and unquestionable of them can fail in a moment. Money has been around in excess of 10,000 years; some sources say as long as mankind itself ... if anything of our hand is unquestionable, than surely this must be it.

The Banking Crisis has shown the inconceivable is not improbable!


1: Two Moors Way