Jeremy Clarkson (Tall, loud chap), James May (Floppy-haired, uber geek) and Richard Hammond (Rocket-powered hamster-man), deranged presenters of the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’, recently played out one of their typically batty challenges.
To date, they’ve raced each other all over Britain, Europe and a few of America’s southern states.
Their latest epic escapade took them north.
All the way north.
Dog sled vs. a customised Toyota pick-up.
First one to the pole wins.
From the comfort of my living room I watched the madmen charge across the most inhospitable of terrain and laughed myself silly as they started mixing themselves G & T and producing wine, cheese and other posh nibbles from their rucksacks.
Intentional or otherwise, these presenters were keeping alive the age-old traditions of the true adventurer; they didn’t have a clue what they were doing, but carried on regardless.
100 years ago, the world was much larger, as were the old empires and the vast egos that dwelled in them. There were still blank areas on the map, which meant there was still the opportunity to get in good with a cartographer and have yourself immortalised in geography.
Lords, ladies, knights and other titles set out on all manner of insane expeditions in an effort to find a lake, waterfall, mountain or canyon that the rest of the world had yet heard mention, and then write themselves into the history books as its discoverer.
Usually, they only found plague carrying mosquitoes or cannibals, which is unsurprising as they all approached the endeavour in the same way; with complete and utter naivety.
They had no idea of what they were getting into, no clue of what clothing or food they should bring along and certainly no respect for local knowledge.
“What do the natives know?”
Enough to stay out of that part of the jungle, matey! There’s a reason no one goes there, you know!
The Brits were, without a doubt, the best at this, mainly because 90% of the island’s adventuring aristocracy were utterly barking and didn’t bat an eyelid at the concept of being mauled by the indigenous fauna. They had no problem setting out into the great, godforsaken unknown armed with naught but a crisp English accent and a hipflask full of Scotland’s finest tipple.
Obviously; most were eaten, but a number did survive, as can be proven by looking at a map.
Everything’s named “Victoria”.
Discovery and achievement were real social currency back then. If you hadn’t climbed a mountain in South America, crossed India on an elephant or been forced to drink your own excreta while lost in the Sahara, you were a nobody.
The celebration of such adventurous (if a bit mental) individuals is something I really miss in this age of mass media. A dim blonde can squeal onto a CD then bounce their baps on TV and is worshiped for it, but people that hike from pole to pole, cross the Atlantic in a row-boat or circle the globe in a hot-air balloon, as they have done in recent years, are ignored.
I think that’s the key to the failings of society: we’re idolising the nobodies.
I set you all a challenge: look at those currently deemed ‘famous’ and ask “What have they actually accomplished?” and “Is it worth being remembered for?”.