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Sunday, 27 September 2009

34 Could you handle loneliness? (Ed Wardle)

A recent television programme – “Alone in the Wild” portrayed film cameraman Ed Wardle who had a boyhood dream: could he survive alone in wilderness for ninety days? He was flown to a lake in Canada and left with a rifle and limited food supplies.

After fifty days Ed pressed the emergency button and was rescued, his main problems being lack of food, loneliness and fear of bears. This guy is no wimp having filmed on the summit of Everest twice, visited the North Pole and chalked up an impressive list of mountaineering achievements. Unfortunately Ed has no particular skills in survival and may therefore have been somewhat naive.

Channel 4 was criticised for making this programme. Ed filmed and recorded himself in a progressively deteriorating mental and physical state making agonising viewing. I have no problem with the concept of this production – it is laudable to always have, and pursue a next ambition, but Ed was not allowed to shoot game due to national park regulations – he did bag the odd porcupine and caught some fish. Shooting an Elk could have ameliorated the hunger problem, but not the loneliness and fear of bears.

Having lived alone for ten years and done most of my walking solo, I have said I find no problem with my own company, but I pondered seriously at this stark production and wondered how I might have fared in Ed’s situation. Ed seemed to suffer acutely from lack of human contact and it demonstrated how different we all are (but are we)? If you want to find out go and give it a try.

The American blogs I read came at it from a different angle. They criticised the suitability of Ed’s rifle, and offered many conflicting opinions on what firearms he should have carried.

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