If I say the name Hugh Glass, what do you think of?
Actually that’s a bit of a daft line to open with because the very nature of a newspaper means I’m unlikely to hear your answer.
Unless you shout really loud, and even then it’s a long shot.
Glass, in case you don’t know of him – and many don’t – did an astonishing thing, which, if you’ll excuse me for being so bold, I think you should know about.
I stumbled upon his tale while reading a daft book on how to survive a bear attack (‘when the bear first pounces, try to talk soothingly to it’, which, as advice goes, is about as practical as telling someone in a plane crash to relax and think happy thoughts).
Born in 1780 in America, Glass was 42-years-old when he volunteered to trek along the River Missouri in North Dakota as part of a fur-trading venture.
Disaster struck when he rounded a corner and walked right into a grizzly bear and her two cubs.
Before he could fire his rifle, or even say ‘oh bugger’, the grizzly picked him up and hurled him to the ground, repeatedly raking him with its claws.
Glass, though, was a pretty tough cookie and actually managed to kill the bear with a knife, but his injuries were horrible – cuts so deep they exposed bare ribs, a broken leg, and festering wounds.
He was also knocked unconscious.
The party of men he was with assumed he’d die, so took his rifle, knife and equipment and left him where he was (I’m guessing these fellas weren’t on Glass’s Christmas card list in the years after).
But despite his injuries, Glass woke and, alone and 200 miles from the nearest American settlement, began one of the most remarkable treks in history.
He set his own leg, wrapped himself in the fur of the bear he had killed and, to prevent gangrene, laid his wounding back on a rotting log and let maggots eat the dead flesh (think of that next time some halfwitted star on I’m A Celebrity starts screaming because they have to touch a spider).
Surviving on wild berries and roots (on one occasion he drove two wolves from a downed bison calf and feasted on the meat), Glass crawled 200 miles on all fours – the equivalent of Blackpool to Glasgow, terribly injured, crawled all the way! – to the settlement and safety.
Now if that had happened to me I would have Tweeted (“OMG - just crawled 200 miles after bear attack. Fine now tho, LOL”) then bought a little cottage in, say, Bournemouth and spent the rest of my life doing Sudoku puzzles and watching Bargain Hunt.
But not Glass.
After a brief period of recuperation he volunteered to embark on more expeditions, and was killed a decade later by an aggressive tribe of Indians.
So there you go, what a chap! Slightly insane, obviously, but nevertheless proof that they really did breed them tough back in the old days.
Bucket brutes just oh, so rude
For the first time in my life – which is quite shameful now I come to think about it – I joined in a charity collection the other night. It was for Trinity Hospice and involved holding a bucket at Blackpool Cricket Club’s firework display, shouting ‘Help the Hospice’, and being ignored by passers-by.
I fear, however, I may not be cut out for it. For starters I began getting resentful at anyone who walked past (which was about 97 per cent of folk). Many people half-heartedly fumbled in their pockets, grimaced and said ‘sorry mate, got no change, I’ll give something on my way out’. Which, translated, means you’re not getting a penny off me tonight sunshine.
One man stopped right in front of me, counted out several pound coins, and remarked to his wife ‘good news Sharon, we’ve got enough for burgers’, then walked past. Another woman asked if she could have some money from the bucket so she could go on the fairground ride.
A young lad screamed at a colleague also collecting, ‘will you stop shaking that (expletive) bucket – it’s doing my (expletive) head in’.
The whole experience gave me a very different view of those dozens of saintly folk who go out collecting for good causes each week. Not everyone can afford to give. God knows times are hard. But give what you can to whatever cause is important to you – and if you can’t do that, at least be nice when saying no.