Celtic Illumination, part 288, The Coach, The Cadet and his medication.
I am so glad to see so many of you who understand that what I was going through, or why so many incidents were happening to me, was nothing to do with luck, or karma, or even chance. The great philosopher Carl Jung probably got close to describing it best when he called what was happening to me ‘synchronicity’ or in lay-man’s terms ‘a meaningful coincidence.’ I hate to disagree with the founder of analytical psychology, but what was happening to me might have been meaningful but it was no bloody coincidence. The double top secret cabal, who were preparing me to take the throne of Ireland, had their controlling hand in everything I saw, touched or breathed, even the mouthful of field I enjoyed on arrival.
At that time Ireland was still stumbling from murderous incident to incident on a daily basis and as there was no set date for me to take the throne, they upped their methods of preparation. I was to be faced with incident after incident to make sure I could deal with the situation in Ireland should I have to go there the following day. I think I would have preferred Ireland to tell you the truth. Looking back I am glad of the strenuous training regimen the double top secret cabal put me through for at least I had the correct attitude, which I believe was not to dwell on the past, but to fix whatever was broken or adapt to a new situation and keep moving forward. Even when you have an adult member of staff wandering around complaining that he only had one shoe, was something that had to be fixed and dealt with, but then we could move on.
When I woke the following morning I was a little disappointed as none of my clothes were dry. It was probably the only thing I disliked about being out in the field, which was pulling on wet gear first thing in the morning. At least I wasn’t going out into six inches of snow. I was standing outside my tent, praying for my clothes and boots to warm up when I was approached by a young cadet who asked that he be taken home. He had lost his medication and would have to go home to get some more. I lit a cigarette and told him to see me after breakfast. I made my way toward the cook shack where I could get a nice cup of tea, but didn’t make it all the way there before I was ambushed by two cadets this time.
“Sir. Sir. Will you have a word with your James? He was putting spiders in our sleeping bags last night.” I know I felt like getting back into my tent, zipping the flap shut and putting my fingers in my ears but, you know what they say, ‘You shouldn’t have joined up if you can’t take a joke.’ With a decent mug of hot tea inside me I began to warm up and not feel so awkward in my damp clothes. I decided that today was going to be a good day. See what I mean about attitude? It was a Sunday, but with my guidebook, notes and local knowledge I knew that there was a doctor’s surgery open in the next village down, Betws-Y-Coed. I would send the cadet, who needed medication, along with John to collect the coach, rather than come straight back to us they could go on down to Betws-Y-Coed, visit the surgery, get him a new prescription, collect medication from chemist, then come back for us.
As for James I was going to have to have a strong word with him for it was no good putting spiders in other people’s sleeping bags if you were going to get caught. He would have to work on his stealth skills. Today’s activity needed, as our American cousins might say, to be knocked out of the park. Today I was taking the whole squadron up Mount Snowdon. Snowdon is not only the highest mountain in Wales but it is also the busiest. There is a train service to the summit, a restaurant and visitor centre at the top, about six different routes up and a dragon living in a lake underneath it. What do you mean you don’t believe me? At the base of Snowdon is a lake, Glaslyn, The Blue Lake, and legend has it that Y Ddraig Goch, The Red Dragon, the symbol of Wales lives in the lake and that If Wales was ever in trouble, The Red Dragon would rise from the waters and help the country. I read that in a fairy tale written by some fantastic Irish writer so it must be true.
I would split the squadron in to three or four smaller parties. I would take the more senior cadets and my own two boys, over the more difficult route, while the other parties could stick to the more popular routes, which with what they had been taught, and many other people about, they should be safe enough. I intended taking a party over Crib Goch, which is the scariest mountain in Wales if not the United Kingdom. You have to traverse a knife edge ridge, with a sheer drop on one side and a feeling of total exposure on the other. I know that on the approach to Crib Coch there is a sign warning people that the route should not be undertaken by novices. My two boys had been running around mountains since birth and the cadets were sufficiently experienced. As long as we took our time and were careful we would be fine and they would remember it for the rest of their lives.
I briefed all the adults, even managed to find someone with the same size feet, with a spare pair of shoes, for a certain person. I briefed the cadets and told them what teams they were in, what equipment they should pack and how much food and water they should prepare. I made sure that the adults sat in on this as well, as I was learning from my experience that the cadets were not the only ones who needed telling what to do. With everyone ready all we had to do now was to wait for John to come back with the coach, the cadet and his medication. Sounds like a Peter Greenaway film. It wasn’t too long before the call went up that the coach had been sighted. It was getting close to lunch time and the roads were pretty busy. John pulled in to the car park, opposite Cobdens Hotel, and we left the camp site in one long single file.
Thankfully there wasn’t too much messing about and we managed to get all the bodies and kit on to the coach. I explained to John that the car park at Pen Y Pas might be full, as it was so late in the day, so he might have to come away with the coach, which would mean arranging a pick up time back at Pen Y Pas, which of course would affect the whole day’s activities. I said I would give it some thought and sat down. There’s only so many twiddles you can give a plan before the whole thing breaks down. But this time it wasn’t the plan that broke down, it was the coach. John sat there in the driver’s seat twisting the steering wheel one way and then the other, but the wheels on the coach were not going round, they were not responding.
I don’t like lying under coaches when the engine is running, but even I could see that a metal rod, connecting the steering wheel thingy to the wheel thingy, was broken. Hope I wasn’t too technical for you there. The coach wasn’t going anywhere as were we. I nominated a couple of members of staff who took the cadets and their kit back to the camp site, leaving myself John and one or two other adults with the coach. I sent one adult off to the public telephone box to call Andy and explain the situation to him, he could organise the recovery of the coach. To another adult I explained that the whole squadron would walk up the mountain behind us, Moel Siabod, the most boring and arduous walk I had ever undertaken in my life. They could walk up for an hour or two and then turn around and come back down. Get the cadets to use their maps and compasses, I suggested.
I knew that parachute cord and bodge tape would not fix this problem as it involved hydraulics and my parachute cord wasn’t strong enough for that type of work. Once again my mind was working overtime wondering if I had covered all bases when I heard the familiar cry I was getting so used to that weekend, “Who’s in charge here?” I turned to find a youngish fellow, hands on hips, Peter Pan style, most definitely thinking himself important and wanting to tell someone about it. “I am,” I said. “Right,” he said. “You have to move this coach. Now what is it with people and the bleeding obvious? “It has broken down,” I explained. “I can’t move it.” “You have to!” he screamed, at me. My staff were moving away because they knew me and they knew that we were now entering a situation where there could be a lot of pain and teeth flying about.
I think the fellow understood this and stood back a bit himself. “We are very dependant on passing trade here,” he said, indicating the crawling line of traffic that was snaking its way along the road. “Your coach is preventing them from pulling in and having lunch with us, so I am going to have to take legal action against you for the amount of trade we shall lose today.” The staff member came back from the telephone and told me that Andy had been briefed and he was handling the recovery. I told the rest of the adults to go back to base camp and join in with the others if they so wished. I sat on the step of the coach and lit a cigarette to wait for the recovery vehicle. The crawling line of passing traffic a constant reminder of what was in store for me. But I wasn’t that worried about some over excited hotel manager and his threats of legal action. My concern was a bit more real and a lot more immediate. I had to get fifty people, and all their kit, back home the following day and all I had was one bicycle.