Thursday, September 1, 2011

Squelchy Underwear

Almost every day since he was sixteen years of age my male staff has run an average of five kilometres. Lets say he has two days off a week. That means he's run a total of forty eight thousand two hundred and eighty five kilometres since he started. If you're really smart and really bored you can work out from these figures how old my male staff is. Last Monday's run was apparently one of the more eventful ones. His current running route takes him through some woods and as he was jogging absent mindedly along a large snake fell from a tree into the grass by the side of the track. He says it was a six-footer, but couldn't say whether it was a taipan or an eastern brown, not that it matters, you don't want either on your head. Both can kill you before you can stagger to the nearest house for help. Anyway, it was all good in the end because he did a personal best time, despite having squelchy underwear.

Another man who evidently suffered from SUS (Squelchy Underwear Syndrome) was Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere. I've been helping my male staff to read "The Fort" by Bernard Cornwell. I have to help because he has trouble with big words like "The" and "Fort". In any case I don't mind because he lets me chew some of the pages after we've read them. He says it doesn't matter because it's only a library book. Mr Cornwell's research led him to discover that this so called hero of the revolution - The War of Independence - was an utter plonker. Not a brave plonker either, but one with a broad yellow streak running down from the nape of his neck and disappearing into his butt crack.

Most school kids know Paul Revere as the man who rode from Boston to Concord to warn of the arrival of the British. Except he didn't make it. Other in his group completed the ride but he was captured. The only reason he became a much revered (If you'll pardon the pun) hero is because Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem about him forty years after his death. This in itself is one hell of an irony because the afore mentioned poet's maternal grandfather was Brigadier General Peleg Wadsworth - the only senior officer to come through the total balls-up that was the siege of the British fort at Penobscot Bay with any credit to his name. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere was there, commanding the artillery. Apart from Wadsworth, the other two senior officers were Commodore Dudley Saltonstall and General Solomon Lovell. To Wadsworth's unending dismay decisions on how to conduct the siege were put to a vote, and Saltonstall, Lovell and Revere all voted that they didn't like the idea of being shot at. Revere was the keenest of the three to give up the siege, which would undoubtedly have successfully defeated the British had they stormed the fort early in the piece instead of endlessly discussing the matter over cosy cups of tea.

It didn't help that Revere's artillery was so inept that the fort was barely damaged during the entire siege and then when finally British reinforcements arrived and the rebels fled in a most undignified manner Revere refused to rescue a group of his own stranded men because he didn't want to run the risk of the British capturing his personal baggage. Eventually he abandoned his men altogether and returned to his home in Boston where he immediately put the kettle on, donned a comfy pair of slippers and turned on the telly hoping to catch up with what had been happening on "The Bold and the Beautiful".

Not surprisingly, an inquiry into the whole fiasco at Penobscot Bay found Revere guilty of cowardice, but over the following years he hounded the inquiry committee so much that they succumbed and said that he had performed as well as any of the other commanding officers. Which, as Mr Cornwell points out, is not saying a great deal.

There. I bet you didn't expect that from a guinea pig blog. Next week - Why Davy Crockett spent part of his life with his head up a raccoon's bottom passage.

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