I notice that describing someone as a 'Victor Meldrew' is an increasingly used term being used in the media, particularly in the comments pages of newspapers like The Telegraph and Independent, to describe someone from societies 'Stupid Angry White Men' constituency. Of course, US satirist Michael Moore first used the term 'Stupid White Men' in his eponymous best selling 1990's book . In the US, these people are the backbone of the Christian right who gather under the Tea Party/Republican umbrella. In the UK, they tend to congregate around the anti Europe UKIP flag. A party whose membership David Cameron accurately described as 'a bunch of racists, bigots and fruitcakes'. A couple of months ago I blogged a piece about the reaction from right wing bigots to the tragic events in the Scottish mountains this winter in 'Scaling theTelegraphs Troll Wall'. Sadly, the winter continues to heap tragedy upon tragedy in Scotland and predictably the same old tired and ignorant comments continue to fall like mouldy apples.
Following the death on Ben Nevis of a friend of a friend at the weekend, The Independent ran a story alleging malpractice by the RAF rescuers. The story itself appears somewhat suspect. However, it's impossible not to get angry to the point of apoplexy when you read the predictable comments from these 'Victor Meldrews'.
From their position of supreme ignorance, these suburban, middle England coach potatoes- who wouldn't know a ice screw from a ice axe- moan about 'the taxpayer' having to foot the bill to rescue these foolhardy and selfish individuals. With calls to ban access to the mountains in winter altogether and make the victims of ill fortune foot the bill through compulsory mountain insurance etc..etc, It's really infuriating when you think that the most adventurous thing these Daily Mail types ever do is drive the scenic route to a Harvester Grill where they'll sit with their sour faced partners and consume enough calories to sink a battleship! When they get cancer in their early 60's through their sedentary, booze soaked, junk food lifestyle they won't have too much to say about taxpayers footing the bill for their treatment I suspect !
Apparently, the average life expectancy of a member of one of the UK's leading climbing clubs is 88. That is of course far higher than the average UK life expectancy. It's a fact that mountaineering does attract a generally more educated middle class participant who will be more mindful of the effects of healthy eating, drinking in moderation and of course the value of regular exercise.
The ironic thing about these Middle England coach potatoes wagging their fat white fingers at the climbing constituency is that climbers, for all the risks they take and their lifetime involvement in a potentially dangerous activity, will still outlive these 'Victors' by a couple of decades!
In the immortal words of the late great US environmentalist Edward Abbey...
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”