My friend Rosey takes her job as a classroom assistant very seriously, so when her school joined forces with several other local educational establishments in an attempt to raise money for a new community project, she was right there! They have bought a disused playground which had fallen into disrepair, and are in the process of turning into a military style training ground and assault course for seven to eleven year olds - and Rosey of course!
To gather funds, teachers and other staff were sponsored to attend the local army barracks and having a go at the real thing. I was asked along too as they were able to invite one or two friends, but I decided just to watch. I’m not stupid! She told that me that suffering for a cause would be a cathartic experience. It would be energising, healing and liberating she said. I said it would be certainly exhausting, possibly wounding and I’d rather be shackled thank you very much! They did it properly too. Heavy boots, camouflage suits, backpacks, cloth caps and brown and green face paint smudges! Rosey looked hilarious; a cross between an autumnal tree and a reptile! They watched a demonstration run through by the instructors and then waited their turn to go for it. Whilst she was waiting, Rosey adopted her all too familiar confused look and asked me if she had to go ‘Over that, under that, through there, up there and down that’. I said ‘No, you go under that, up that, over that, up there and through that and down there’. She looked bemused and a little worried. I told her it would all make sense once she was up and running so to speak! She asked if I thought it all looked a little risky. ‘Nah’ I said! ‘Like a walk in a park’.
Anyway, when it was Rosey's turn to go, her cloth cap was swapped for a tin helmet, and off she trotted, her arms bent upwards at the elbow and her limp hands flapping. The first mistake she made was to enter at a hole in the ground, the start of the tunnel, from the wrong end. She was totally oblivious to the yells of the instructors. Half way through, on all fours and in total darkness, she came head to head, literally, with someone going the other way. Thank goodness for those helmets as her opponent was going at a fair old lick! As she had a little difficulty crawling backwards, they decided to tie a rope to her ankles and drag her out!
That was the first of several misadventures. She fell from a rope walk and ended up suspended like a puppet on two strings. Then she tripped and went head first down a muddy river bank, and when she staggered upright again she projected a stream of muddy water from her mouth. She climbed down a ladder instead of up, after climbing up a tree not down. But through it all she laughed like a hyena! I’ve never before heard such a raucous laugh emanate from such a normally genteel person! Then suddenly she appeared, arms raised, on top of a concrete bunker. ‘Look, my life’s in jeopardy and I’m loving it’ she shrieked. Unfortunately she had forgotten that she was supposed to use a fabric slide thing to get her feet back on the ground. So she unwisely leapt, laughing like a drain, and landed in a heap on the ground. Suddenly her laughter became a whimper!
We were in the casualty department at Eastbourne General Hospital for what seemed like hours. We waited and waited to be seen, whilst Rosey gripped her throbbing shoulder. She said she thought the nurses couldn’t see her because of the camouflage paint on her face! But she was eventually seen, and soon after, she emerged from a treatment room with her arm in a sling and a relocated shoulder. In true Rosey style, she even managed to find her sorry situation somewhat amusing!
She raised a lot of money from an enormous amount of additional sponsors; not for the less than skilful way she tackled the assault course, but more for the hilarious comedy performance she provided! That’s my friend Rosey!