Suburban warriors


Something old? Jacket, definitely. Something new? Erm, mug. Something blue? Trousers. Something borrowed: well, that’s by far the biggest category and contains compass, rucksack, sleeping bag, knife, first aid kit, tarp and sleep mat. The needle has been oscillating between sheepish and gleeful for some time but I can’t keep it in any longer: this weekend is Survival Weekend.

Granted we only have to survive one night, in Surrey, in mid-summer, but still. I and three friends are heading down to the hamlet of Somewhere-Near-Esher to destabilize a group of punters paying to be led (acc to the company blurb) by a former SAS man. I was going to add some more verbs but I realized that already I would be leading my troops/readers into a trap, because twixt thee and me – don’t let on, must maintain morale – I haven’t a blessed clue what we’re supposed to be doing.

Presumably it’ll involve purifying water, getting lost, gumming up Primus stoves and eating imperfectly warmed-through sachets of catfood claiming to be chicken chasseur. My scrying glass also hints at badly tied-down tents, dropped knives and niffy socks. On the other hand, I also foresee steaming mugs of tea, woodland widdles, fits of laughter, magical dawn light, aching muscles, brows furrowed in concentration – and triumph greater than anything ever known as tinder finally kindles into flame.

We have been expressly told not to wear jeans or bring pyjamas. It’s a worry that I only recognize the words for things I can’t bring, whereas the stuff deemed essential – firesteel, bivi bag, paracord – are a closed book. Although the essentialist essential of all is already scheduled: a pure-stodge diet for 24 hours prior to departure. Bears do it, bees do it, I daresay educated fleas do it, but me? No. Not even in Surrey.


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