Last weekend I walked 24km carrying a 11kg backpack, slept in the freezing cold on a shitty attempt at a sleeping mat, and ate crap food plus a spectacularly high quantity of sugar. Whilst tending to my 10-12 blisters, I've been trying to work out exactly why that certain weekend of my life has ended up as such, and I believe I've come to a reasonable conclusion. It is not because I thought it would be fun, nor is it because 'it will look good on my CV.' Unbelievably it's not even because I wanted to 'push my physical strength and stamina to the limit,' which I know is hard to come to terms with.
It's because I wanted to impress a series of old men. Firstly, our dear old assessor. He said our navigation was not good enough. We were sad and angry. The next day, he said our navigation needed to be 'nearly perfect.' We proceeded to ask him what would happen if it wasn't. He simply repeated: 'it needs to be nearly perfect,' because he's so intelligent and cryptic. But in our hearts we knew the answer - we would FAIL. I don't believe it was possible to spend an hour without being threatened by FAILURE. If we didn't pick up pasta off the grass - FAILURE. Getting in the way of cyclists - FAILURE. Rude to the assessors - FAILURE. Failure was a formidable and daunting concept that the assessors threw around frivolously, teasing and scaring our little hearts, to make themselves feel important. To try and forget, just for a few seconds, that their lives were insignificant - so insignificant and empty that they would willingly give up a whole two days to go chasing young girls through a forest.
Not that they weren't good at it. We'd be walking through the silent forest, and suddenly one of these smug little shits appears out of nowhere on his bike. He then removes his helmet (safety first), proceeds to tell us that we are lost, and observes that we are not smiling, before fucking off again. It makes me think - 'well these old men are awfully good at tracking young girls through a forest, but I'm going to ignore any implications that may have and not jump to any conclusions.'
So you can see why I wanted to impress them. God forbid they thought my navigation wasn't up to scratch.
But I've failed to mention the most important, judgemental and fucking pedantic old man of all. The Duke of Edinburgh himself. This man is old. He is a man that believes in guilty until proven innocent, a man that assumes that we are all liars, a man that thinks we still know how to use compasses, a man that totally refuses to acknowledge a certain modern convenience known as a sat nav. He is a man that employs a whole host of old men who are, each one, nearly as smug and pedantic as he is. Not forgetting the old women, but they are, as we know, simply tagging along to their husbands and doing the cooking. Google tells me he is the Queen's husband, but I'm no fool - the Queen's husband obviously lives in Buckingham Palace with her, not Edinburgh. I embarked on a 24km journey of pain to impress this old bastard.