Tuesday, May 6, 2014

76 Bangkok

I've had a bad foot for the past few week. I've been holed up in my apartment neither bothered nor motivated to do much of anything. I've slept for hours on the sofa and wallowed in my pain, until I'd downed enough Tylenol to fell a medium sized pony.

This foot thing could grow to be a concern for the big surface trip. My approaching fifty year old body is tossing out signals that it's fifty, and that it can be buggered up from twenty five years of lifestyle. It's weird. My brain is alert as ever but my flesh and bits can't keep up. When I was a child watching dads and uncles grow older I didn't know that the thoughts of those dads and uncles were pretty much those of the same blokes when they first asked out the mums or aunts.

Hmmm. My body isn't keeping up. In a few years I'd make a rubbish polar explorer. Not that I'd have been an expert a few decades ago. With me I can forget the idea of fighting back the "minor tingle" of frostbite, stuffed into a sleeping bag with a stiff upper lip, eating boiled seal meat. There's no way I could do or could have done that. There's no way I could make the ultimate sacrifice for my mates with a "I'm off out for a while" death walk into the Antarctic night. With me it would be;

"I think I'll be stopping in lads, my toe hurts. Yeah, I might be here for a while. Can anyone knock up a mug of Ovaltine? Ta."

This foot pain has reminded me of the time I saw an inspirational statue of the ultimate polar explorer and leader, Ernest Shackleton. It's at the Royal Geographical Society, subtley tucked into a brick niche looking over to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, on the outside of the library building so everyone can see him if they cared to look up as they walk past.

It's a fabulous, human scaled sculpture; cast by Charles Sargeant Jagger with, so I've read, the concept and design begun by Edwin Lutyens.

Crikey, does Ernest look determined, oh yes, does Ernest look hard. No swollen foot issues up there.

In my week of pain I did manage to get out to the 7-Eleven a few times, with differing styles and various amounts of heroic hobbling as the days went on. Okay, three hundred yards to 7-Eleven and back wasn't an expedition worthy of Shackleton, but such yomps are a fine excuse to post Edward Elgar's Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod"... because Nimrod is the name Shackleton gave to the 1907 to 1909 British Antarctic Expedition. I hummed it to myself as I hopped along and paid for my milk. 



I'm happy I can cope with a dull pain and that I can walk again.  I've had returned the precious gift of mobility. I'm wondering where in the world I'll go tomorrow.

- - - -
As a contrast to Sargeant's glorious understatement of sculpture for a civilian super hero, here's some over done "nobs in charge" stuff...

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband.
Kim Il Sung, The Great Leader and Eternal President of DePRoK in 2010.
Nowadays he's got his son, Kim Jong-Il, standing next to him.
Equestrian Statue of King Louis XIV, Versailles.
Equestrian Statue of King Rama V, Bangkok (the Siamese peasants were expecting an elephant).
Ho Chi Minh, hands in pockets, striding forward across the plaza in his birthplace town of Vinh,Vietnam.
Mausoleo Che Guevera, Santa Monica, Cuba. 
This last one has to be the best of the lot. The Albert Memorial was a close, loving second. But Che's was the most down to earth, grand scale, place, where school children could learn and interact with their people's history. They were unfettered by any religious ancestral worship and under none of that nonsense to feign reverence to a dead deity.

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