Friday, 11 January 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

My parents were odd, and wouldn't allow a TV in the house until I was in my mid-teens. Instead, I read books and listened to audio tapes of books. One of my favourites was a reading of Scott's Antarctic Diary. The other was the story of Everest. I must have listened to these tapes hundreds of times. So from a very young age, I knew who Sir Edmund Hillary was and what he had done. I also knew that Tensing Norgay was his companion on the final push when they 'knocked the bastard off,' and once managed to supply a crucial answer in a pub quiz by advising that Sir John Hunt was the overall leader of the expedition.

So I feel like someone I've known for years has died.

Given the inescapable linkage between Hillary and Everest, I thought these lines from Burns' love song, John Anderson, My Jo were appropriate. The poem was also used by Maurice Gee in his novel, Plumb:
John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

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