Saturday, April 07, 2007

Brown's for the Green

Things we covered...


Rebel Skip (three canoes, Folbot)
Rebel Rob (canoe, kayak)
Rebel Jim (two canoes)
Rebel Jim (canoe)
Rebel Tim (canoe)
Rebel Josh (canoe)
Rebel Bob (ukelele)
Rebel Rob
Rebel Roy
Rebel Stuart
Rebel Bill
Rebel Mike
Rebel Kirly
Rebel Pete Feldman


Friday dinner: brats and buns
Saturday breakfast: oatmeal, granola, bananas, coffee
Saturday lunch: hot chicken (Prince's or 400-degrees)
Saturday dinner: steak (choose filet mignon or New York strip), Caeser salad with anchovies, potatoes, good red wine (Roy)
Sunday breakfast: same as Saturday plus beer


Beer (case each)
Whiskey (Old Grand-dad, Basil-Hayden)
Afternoon Tea (screwdrivers)


4:00 Friday from Barton Ave.
4:30 from airport


New Guys: $200
Returning members: $150 (firm, no refunds or assessments after)


Before the trip there had been the brief - the much too brief - period of actual preparation. A confused period. Seeing dentists, scrounging gun oil, sending (our one lapse into optimism) luggage home, parrying curiosity about out plans, buying films, buying medicine, buying maps . . .

For me, the scrambled memory of those days is dominated by the silent figures of three old men. They were thin, wrinkled, resigned old men; beggars by profession. They sat on three hard chairs in a small room opening off a laboratory and full of guinea-pigs in cages. Their ragged trousers were rolled up above their knees and to the dwindled calves of each were clamped a number of little shallow boxes. The sides of the boxes which pressed against the flesh were made of gauze or something like it; and each box contained 500 lice. For two hours every day, and for the wage of twelve Chinese dollars a month, the three old men pastured, between them, some 18,000 lice.

Why? For our especial safety. The lice, thus nobly nourished, supplied an anti-typhus serum; and on each of the three occasions that we visited the old men we came away injected with the essence of no less than thirty of the little creatures. Humble, impassive, not even perplexed - hired for petty martyrdom in a cause beyond their comprehension - the old men stood enigmatically at the gateway of our enterprise. Their lacklustre and unregarding eyes reflected the indifference of a continent that we had now to cross.

Apart from a rook rifle, six bottles of brandy, and Macaulay's History of England, we had no equipment or supplies worth mentioning. I felt extremely cheerful nonetheless.

- Peter Fleming, 1936 (News From Tartary)

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