The Tom Crean Diary of Polar Exploration Apr03


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The Tom Crean Diary of Polar Exploration

We’ve been walking today, for a change. Scott suggested it. He reckons all the sitting around not eating and firing little rolled up balls of dead skin at each other is sapping our pioneering spirit. Walking’s such a drag though. It’s such a vast tundra. There’s a whole load of nothing.

Tawny Owl lost his favourite pair of ear muffs and is using Scott’s dog’s pair for the moment. Scott deigned to offer them but I could tell it was killing him. But now the dog hears his orders and is far more useful. Scott has a real way with the dog. He rubs his belly and scratches his groin and the dog watches and seems to enjoy the performance.

Browny and Cooper were giving each other piggy backs because it’s such a long walk. Cooper is a lot heavier than Browny so Browny carries Cooper for as long as it takes to sing “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes,” but Cooper always sings it real slow and tenderly just to get a longer piggy-back. Scott doesn’t approve of the song choice. “Why couldn’t you sing something that we could all sing along to?” he wondered, “like ‘Little pants on a big, big girl’ or ‘You’re gonna make me lonesome when you eventually die’?” Neither Cooper nor Browny had ever heard of either of these songs.

I was remembering Kerry this evening, especially an old neighbour of ours who’d call for a cup of tea and some poteen, a man named Spastic Dan. He wasn’t a spastic, not in the way people mean nowadays. He came from a long line of shoe salesmen. He said none of them had anything he wanted and there were no shoeshops that time where I came from. Spastic Dan liked to make his own shoes. He’d fashion a nice pair of wingtips out of old cats and bits of dry twigs. Those shoes would last a lifetime if only they wouldn’t fall apart in rain and when he tried to put them on. But I wonder what Spastic Dan would think if he could see me now, out here in the wilderness? He’s probably long dead; he was never a very healthy man as I recall. Used to drink too much of that damned poteen. Had a massive red nose. We used to call him Spastic Rudolf. My mother’d give him extra bottles of the stuff. She used to say he needed it on account of being such a “poor cratur.”

Tawny Owl and Cooper’s Aunt have struck up some kind of a romance. Scott doesn’t approve; mixing business and pleasure is never a good idea he reckons. Tawny Owl says she doesn’t pay him a bob.