Thursday, 25 June 2015

Adventure - Why??

Recently I was walking past a bookstore 5 minutes from where I work, one of those shops that instantly transports you back to years gone by, musty with the smell of old print and seemingly physics defying internals that appear to be far to much to fit into the building outside..  The first time I entered, I was hoping to see the librarian dragging his knuckles along the floor (see the discworld) or the shopkeeper from Mr Ben appear from around the bookshelves with a wonky fez on his head..  In fact the first time I went in the door was open but no one was there not a soul!  I was luckier on my second visit.

I happened to glance in the window and spotted a book which I didn't have the cash for at the time (no modern fangled cards accepted) so I reserved it and  I picked up today from the proprietor who turned out to be nothing as I had imagined but nonetheless fitting as if the bookshop had grown up around him.  The title  of the book is "The Kangchenjunga Adventure", F. S. Smythes - Famous Travel Book - the first cheap edition with all 48 original plate's at a cost of 6s!

The cheap edition

Kangchengjunga the 3rd highest mountain in the world

I had no idea what this book was about but it had that marvelous word Kangchenjunga and Adventure in the title, it had called out to me from the second hand bookshop and despite having no idea of the content I was resolved to read it.  I had imagined some African adventure full of the mysteries of the dark continent, with moustached englishmen in plus fours being followed up river by locals carrying bales of hay, don't laugh check for yourself in any of those illustrations with natives carrying equipment there are always one or two with a bale of hay.. no one ever explains why they are carrying hay but they do..  Think back to all of the old films in black and white they are always sitting on a bale of hay.. who do you think carrried them, certainly not the explorer!  The truth is however it turned out to be an account of several ascents of different Himalayan peaks by an international team of mountain climbers.

Originally published in 1930 it saw four subsequent publications over the next two years so must have been a popular book, and judging by the exclamation on the cover of it being the first cheap edition the less well off of the masses must have been clamouring for an affordable copy, if anyone has an "Expensive" copy I would love to see it :-)

The part that immediately sprang out when reading this was in the preface:

"it is now no longer neccessary to disguise adventue shamefacedly under the cloak of science.  The scientific side of the expedition was well attended to, and interesting and important data have been gained.  We went, however, to Kangchenjunga in response not to the dictates of science, but in obedience to that indefinable urge men call adventure, an urge which in spite of easy living and "Safety First," still has its roots deep in the human race".

Firstly how nothing changes 80 + years ago they were fearing that society was becoming too closeted and safety conscious; and secondly the primal urge to explore and adventure!!!!!!

If I am asked why I am setting out on my travels I can honestly say in less eloquent terms that Mr F. S. Smythe "what he said"!

I am looking forward to reading Mr Smythes book and adding it to my seemingly growing collection of adventures from the turn of the century.  It is hard to think of an adventure not already undertaken or an area not yet extensively mappped, it appears our generation for the most must satisfy themselves with doing things faster, more of or in novel ways etc.. This doesn't detract from those adventures because from my perspective actually experiencing something yourself enduring personal hardship in itself is so personal that no one even those who have walked the same path before you have experienced in quite the way an individual does.

The satisfaction of setting a goal and achieving it will always be an adventure in itself! I have always had what I believe to be an adventurous spirit, and it seems that it is showing no signs of diminishing!

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