I Will Survive
A field mushroom. Of the ordinary, edible, non-hallucinogenic variety. Grows in grassy places, rarely by trees, with a white cap approximately four inches in diameter, browning slightly in older specimens. Can be eaten raw, baked, or fried and stuffed into a bacon sandwich.
Don't worry; I haven't finally flipped and decided to escape reality by pursuing an obsession with interesting fungus. It's just that we have a copy of the SAS Survival Guide in our toilet (which, if nothing else, tells you quite a lot about our toilet) and I've begun perusing it with curiosity. After all, one of my walks out into the countryside could well bring me face to face with murderous pygmies, or trap me beneath an avalanche. It's drastically important that I prepare myself for the worst.
Thus, I've now learned about the various lethal cousins of this harmless mushroom, such as the Death Cap, which within eight hours of consumption induces vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst, sweating, convulsions, then apparent recovery followed by liver failure; pretty much all the hallmarks of your average trip to Wetherspoons. In addition, I know exactly how to deal with a sudden encounter with a dangerous animal (freeze - slowly back away - talk in a calm manner - try not to shit your SAS underpants) and how to butcher freshly-caught prey to get the most from the meat (simmer tripe with herbs, turn intestines into sausage skins, and use hearts "to liven up a stew").
All valuable information for any self-respecting commando, or anyone who doesn't want to risk service-station food on a long motorway trip. But it gets better. The special forces aren't just concerned for your physical needs; they're tasked with your mental well-being too, and therefore provide this list of "survival stresses" that could potentially put a bit of a damper on your efforts not to die:
Fear and anxiety
Pain, illness and injury
Cold and/or heat
Thirst, hunger and fatigue
Aside from the fact that I go through all six of these "survival stresses" during the course of my average working day, I really have to take issue with 'boredom' as a problem in a life-threatening situation. If I jump from a plane at ten thousand feet only to discover my parachute's knackered, my immediate concern is not going to be with how humdrum the day's turning out to be. Likewise, if you find it a bit tedious being captured by foreign militiamen whose principle hobbies are all prohibited by the Geneva Convention, it's possibly time for you to lay off the Vin Diesel films and join those of us who live on the planet Earth.
The fun doesn't end there. With typical military gruffness, we're advised to always "check clothing, bedding and equipment for reptiles and insects. If you awake to find one in your sleeping bag, move gently and calmly try to get rid of them or to free yourself." Calmly? Are you shitting me? I'll be jumping up and down on the bastard with as much vigour as my mushroom-nourished body can manage. Of course, that's if I can stave off the boredom for long enough to cope with my sleeping bag being invaded by poisonous predators.
All in all, it's probably for the best if I stick to the bathroom as the most dangerous place I visit. There tends to be fungi sprouting up in there half the time anyway, so if nothing else, it's a chance to test my mushroom identification expertise. If I'm vomiting, sweating, convulsing and suffering organ failure in twenty-four hours, I'll let you know.
- 7.2mp DigitalCAM