|Rum and Mud - is that some newfangled cocktail|
I totally owned that assault course!
Apart from the plastic tubes, perhaps.
But apart from that I owned it. Kind of. I panted, coughed, spluttered, slipped, slid, shrieked, flapped and wheezed my way around it like I was born for a desk job.
But the really strange thing? I actually quite enjoyed it.
Essentially the whole premise of the assault course was to find differently amusing ways to dunk you in cold, muddy, water and once you had cracked that you were laughing – literally.
Then there were the tubes.
Two plastic tubes on a steep slope. Tight. Dark. Dirty. All you had to do, the instructor happily enthused, was go through them.
Firstly we had to go downhill and I forced myself in and shuffled my way down. I managed it – just. The problem wasn’t that it was too small for my ample frame it’s just that I am quite claustrophobic. Bigger men than me could have, and did, get through but the tunnels were just that little bit too tight for my liking and I didn’t like it at all. I was no longer having fun.
Because I am a man, and I was surrounded by other men, I threw myself in at the top and made my way down without a murmur of complaint. And then I was inside it. And then it was dark. And tight. My chest contracted and my heart burnt. The walls were getting narrower – I was sure of that. About six days later, I emerged from the bottom, accepting graciously the humorous mocking from above about the tubes giving birth to “a boy” that immediately turned into “and he’s a builder” because my trousers had lowered themselves down over my backside. I was feeling pretty shaken from my time in that no-space-space but at the end of the day, funny is funny. The laughter helped my recovery anyway and I was soon ready for the next stanza.
Except we hadn’t finished with the tubes.
We had to try and go back up them.
|the man himself|
With gravity on my side I’d made it down but having been in them once I just couldn’t make myself get back in there again.
So I did something that really surprised me. I said no. I didn’t get back in – I just couldn’t. I felt ridiculous and embarrassed and stupid but I just decided that there were more important things in life and just got on with not getting in. No fuss, no bother, no tubes.
And the really cool thing?
This was okay. No one cared, few people even noticed. Men can be pretty cool sometimes.
Same thing happened again later on in the course when we got to the underground tunnels that went horizontally through a purposely made bank. I felt an absolute chill looking at it. And the thing that scared me most was that I knew I would have to get over that fear and make myself go through. Memories of assault courses from my past when I was in the Navy came flooding back. I remembered the shouted hatred of the instructors as they forced me along. The extreme pressure of never being the weak link in the chain was ever present. If you failed or took too long then your whole team would earn them some form of punishment. The Navy never punishes a single member of a team because it knows that punishing the whole team, while pointing at the person to blame, meant that the same single member of the team actually got punished twice. I had to get through that tunnel, and I had to do it without anyone seeing I was scared.
I generally was that weak link when it came to physical challenges. These memories are not exactly my best ones.
But then it hit me. I’m not in the military any more and I had no one to prove anything to. Nobody had cared in the least when I had baulked at the sloped tubes. It didn’t matter at all to anyone. We were only here for fun.
With a tonne of weight lifted from my shoulders I leapt into the pool of stench that was the disgusting muddy water at the base of the tunnel and heaved up the feet of the guy in front of me to get him into the tunnel and then shoved him in. I wasn’t going in there but I wasn’t about to stand back and just watch. I was still a part of that team and was absolutely going to help. With my fellow stag safely through the tunnel I climbed out of the water and just shook my head at the instructor.
There were no shouts. No derision. No hatred. If he thought I was a chicken (which he probably did) then he certainly didn’t say anything. I smiled. Being a telecoms engineer might never be as sexy as being in the forces but occasionally, every now and again, it does have its perks.
After the assault course we built a raft. Ours was a very sexy looking raft indeed.
|It so very nearly floated as good as it looks|
Good looking it might have been but it was entirely useless at staying together and keeping people out of the water. It was a beautifully crap raft. In no time at all it fell apart and dunked the lot of us.
After a whole day being cold and wet we swiftly showered and ….. Well, after that it all got a bit messy if I’m honest. And somewhat blurred. All I know is that at some point in the night a gorilla must have wiped its feet in my mouth and banged on my head against a wall judging by how things felt the next morning.
Great day, Kezza – see you at the wedding!
For more manly silliness - try this -The Slippers of Love