i Editor's Letter: Back to 'normal' news


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The Independent Online


Back to 'normal' news, if you will. I remain conscious of how many of you have written to say the Jubilee is "real" news, but it is so in the way the Olympics, about which many of you feel diffident, is. I'm convinced we will all embrace the Games come the day: the human feats and the "backstories" are irresistible. That is, as long as athletes continue to push back boundaries.

One rare non-Jubilee story this week was the one about the man who has climbed Mount Everest 10 times, Kenton Cool (!), arguing for a limit on the numbers allowed to scale the world's highest peak. You might think he could ban himself? His point was related to the number of deaths already on Everest so far this year (10), the highest total for 15 years. Guides apparently charge up to £60,000 a pop to escort people up, and it can get heel-to-nose. That is not to mention the damage that is being done to the environment.

As ever, a reader's letter (p14) set me thinking. Does the very fact that a challenge exists make it necessary for us to undertake it? Even to think that makes me feel a tad unpatriotic (damn that Jubilee making us lose all reason). If ever there is a race of splendid adventurers then it is us.

My childhood hero was Lawrence of Arabia. I defy readers not to feel inspired by the truly extraordinary Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands. But today, exploring doesn't quite do it for me. Am I alone in my view of the likes of Sir Ranulph Fiennes as eccentric luxuries? This is more mundane I know, but when I hear of potholing or climbing rescues, or a trans-Atlantic row gone wrong, I get irritated with the rescuees for the trouble they cause the rescuers. Maybe, it's because in my own sub-conscious I am just a big fat scaredy-cat. Actually, it's not so "sub".