R is for…

RAMBLER!

Another guest post again today.

What connects ramblers and elves? Daft question? Good question? Quidnunc? (see K is for Knowledge if you don’t know what it means). Some investigation clearly necessary because there is more to this than meets the eye. You may have to bear with me for a while in order to understand, a possibly mystifying, connection. Ok, so let’s start with two well-known definitions from my trusty Chambers Dictionary:

1. A rambler is “a person who goes walking in the country for pleasure” or it could be “someone who wanders or is disconnected in their speech”.

2. An elf is, “in folklore, a supernatural being, generally of a diminutive human form, a tiny fairy with a tendency to play tricks.” Do you believe elves actually exist? Hmmm….

You’ve probably seen someone, in the first category, at some time or another: cagoule, rucksack on back, map in hand, maybe compass too. One thing is certain, they’re not just wandering about with no idea of what they want to do. They have a certain amount of time, a projected distance to travel, food & drink, emergency stuff (whistle & rain gear), and a very clear aim: to reach a certain point (or summit) and return safely. It is that final condition (‘safely’) which is where we will find our sought after connection.

How many of you have heard of the person with the double-barrelled surname, Anne Saif-Tee? Not sure I see any hands going up! Ok, what if I tell you she is an elf and a very important elf, would that help? No? Surely you’ve heard of some of the procedures she’s introduced in many workplaces around the world – they’re called the “Elf Anne Saif-Tee Standards”. Got it? They help people to be protected against potential dangers by specifying how a particular task should be done – safely.
However, she wasn’t happy with just that. She’s written stuff for many other areas. She warns people about the dangers of tobacco & drinking too much alcohol – surely you’ve seen the “elf warnings” that she’s introduced? A few more nodding heads perhaps now? And don’t forget that system she is responsible for to help pay for the provision of medical care & facilities – the Elf Insurance Policy. She’s been working overtime in the UK, during the past 10 years or so, and has introduced many measures in just about every area you can think of – except, to the best of my knowledge, in the field of rambling.

Now this is where I come in as I’m trying to imagine what could happen in the future as I’m sure, before long, she will have a go at reforming this leisurely activity. It’s not hard really. First job is to do what is called the “RA” (or “Risk Assessment”). (Even little kids know about this. You’ve heard them say “RA Mum” or “RA Dad.”) You must have an RA for every function people perform in their places of work or even outside of work whilst engaged in hobbies or pastimes so they can be protected from potential dangers. Look at cyclists, skateboarders, skiers, footballers et al. who, it is suggested, need to wear protective gear like toughened hats, elbow, knee & shin protectors etc.

But how might this impact in the field of rambling? Well, you’d need a hard hat to prevent injury if you fell or had to negotiate overhanging rocks; you’d need a Hi-Viz vest so you could be seen by your fellow walkers in case you become separated from the group; protective glasses required in case of stone chips hitting you in the face, say when you’re climbing a hill behind another person; knee pads would not go amiss either; you’d also need a Sherpa to carry your rucksack if it weighed more than say a couple of pounds because prolonged carrying could result in you sustaining a back injury.

I’ve decided to pre-empt anything Anne (the elf) might do – on a recent walk I took all the gear and hired a Sherpa. He just seemed to be able to keep going despite the severity of the terrain & all he was carrying. Unable to keep up the pace he was setting, I asked, in desperation, “Aren’t you going to ever rest?” He said, tensing up a little, “Probably next week! I’ll be somewhere in Nepal then and should be in peak condition, certainly intent on feeling on top of the world too!!”

Also, ever thought about those “Ess” elves? Who? Never heard people talking about “your ess-elves” or “them ess-elves” or “my ess-elf”? Also don’t forget those very quiet elves that lurk in your house – they’re called the “shh…” elves. And, not surprisingly, you know what they do – hold things up!

Now perhaps you’ll believe that “elves” really do exist! Well here in the UK at least!

So, have I been rambling or is it just possible I could be an elf, my ess-elf? Check those definitions again but I’ll leave it to you to decide.

P.S.: If you doubt how ridiculous Elf Anne Saif-Tee’s Procedures (“Health & Safety” in case you hadn’t got it by now) can be just check out the headline below. (I had to cut some of the page out, in order to fit on A4 scanner, but it really is from the front page of a UK national newspaper – Daily Mail, Fri 13th April, 2012).

 

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