Artists Impression

Artists Impression

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Getting emotional

OK, so since my last sense of humour failure the Everest juggernaut has continued to roll, and picked up a few folks on the way, on Saturday in our final meeting at Lord's we were very pleased to unveil Nokia as our title sponsor - at last!

As much as anything this means that Kirt can now chill out and focus on the expedition itself, on top of that I today received an email from Nir with the signed permission attached for the game - cue big sigh of relief.

However, it's not all that rosy I'm afraid to say. It's easy in these blogs to be very wishy washy and say how wonderful everything is, but actually the last couple of weeks have seen several people come under immense stress, and sadly that proved the undoing of one man.

My only contribution to the meeting on Saturday was to tell everyone what most people already knew, that Charlie Bathurst-Norman has pulled out with just two weeks to go to departure. I honestly cannot put into words how devastating this is.

I had worried about Charlie since he told me his stomach issues, which have bothered him since 2002, were as bad as they had ever been. He dutifully turned up at the door of 24: London for our send off party and did his bit ticking off names, but he wasn't drinking and left pretty early.

That was Thursday 19th, and when he called me on the following Tuesday and told me he was: "a non-starter" I really couldn't think of anything to say to him. We swiftly arranged to meet that night for a chat and on putting the phone down I just sat and stared at my screen for about 30 minutes. I genuinely felt like someone had died.

This may sound like an over-reaction, but Charlie was such a huge supporter of the expedition, and had given so much to it, that it just seemed so cruel and unfair that he, of all people, should be denied the opporunity to go to the place that he had become so obsessed with in the last year.

To give you an idea, he was a key part of the events committee and played a huge role in organising all the phenomenal parties we've had. He is the reason Surrey CCC have allowed us to use their nets every Tuesday, given us a suite for our return party and gave us some amazing raffle prizes. He came to Kathmandu with Kirt and I at Christmas and has helped us with some wonderful contacts over there. He organised a night out at City Golf for Team Hillary and came to Dartmoor for the absurdities that went on down there. Even that list does not do him justice.
It was because of these qualities that we seriously considered him for the captaincy of Team Hillary, but we felt he had enough on his plate already. How right we were. Vice captaincy simply would not have done justice to the man.

I could continue, but won't, I think you get the message. The email he sent out to the Hillary boys was quite something and I hope we have found a suitable way to honour him, which we also announced on Saturday but he is yet to find out about. I want to tell him to his face when I see him on Tuesday.
Now, after that rather morose bit of chat I should go back to all the good things that have happened. Another team weekend in Cornwall came right on the back of the Bath Half, which were both brilliant weekends and both involved a surprising amount of red wine and beer for a group of people who are supposed to be in training!

Mixed in with those we also had the comedy night on my birthday, and the send off bash, which were both extremely entertaining and proved once again how good our events guys are. I also went to The Oval to see one of the Lord's Taverners projects being carried out, table cricket for disabled kids. Quite humbling really.

We leave in just ten days time, everything is virtually in place. I tool delivery of 80 bright pink cricket balls on Friday, which we practised with on Saturday (they swing all over the place!) as well as all the medical kit that we dished out at the meeting, so my office was looking more like a delivery store room than a travel agents.

On that note, why is it that when people see a sealed cardboard box they feel they have to kick it? I shit you not, 6 different people walked passed the medical kit and said: "what's in here?" while putting the boot into the box. It's not like when they bring their mum into the office I would go and stamp on her foot while asking who she was would I??

Anyway, the excitement is starting to build, I for one, just cannot wait to get on the damn plane and be out there. Until next time.

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