January, ten years back*:
I received a lot of flak
When I blundered – went astray –
On a cold and dismal day.
Gale was howling, snow was deep,
Skiddaw’s** slopes rose white and steep,
With its summit in the cloud,
But I planned my climb, unbowed,
Pining for the lofty top
With no image of a flop.
I was soon, despite the freeze,
Crawling on my hands and knees
Yet still sinking in the snow,
With my progress very slow;
But, regardless, on I pressed,
Which (in case you haven’t guessed)
Was a reckless thing to do
Given that nobody knew
Where I was on this vast slope;
Yep, I acted like a dope:
Upwards, higher, then – a fright:
The world went completely white!
There was nothing I could see:
Clouds, the ground, my boots, my knee …
Nothing, so I grabbed my phone
And, in panic-stricken tone,
Called the mountain rescue, who
Mobilised our Keswick crew;
Cockermouth went out as well,
And they got me off the fell,
Now, in darkness – ‘t was pitch-black***,
With no trace of any track.
I was, clearly, in those days
Still in my immortal phase;
Now, with whiteout on the tops,
I stay low and hit the shops!
*To be precise, on 29th January 2009
**Skiddaw is a mountain of over 3,000 feet which towers over my small town of Keswick
***I called the mountain rescue at about 3.30pm, and the Cockermouth team reached me at roughly 7pm, albeit in complete darkness because I had found myself on the eastern flank of Skiddaw and thus away from Keswick’s lights. My having ended up there was lucky because, if I had strayed onto its precipitous western slopes, I might not be here now. The rescuers managed to locate me because I was shining two torches (head and hand). Needless to say, I didn’t see anybody else on the fell that day – not that I could see much …