RANULPH Fiennes is a name synonymous with adventure, discovery and occasional mischief and it is for this that he is a true British hero.
I am not one for excessive or unnecessary patriotism but Fiennes’ talk Living Dangerously talk somehow extracted the proud Brit inside me.
H e encapsulates everything that we would pick as the endearing features of the inhabitants of our small nation – grit and competitive determination, but above all an ability to laugh at oneself.
The rugged-faced 70-yearold explorer’s inimitable life story could hardly be summed up in a couple of hours talk and a slide show but he gave it a good shot.
His military tales ranged from misadventure in the SAS - blowing up a concrete damn built for the 1967 film Dr Dolittle in picturesque Castle Combe with ‘leftover’ explosives - to bravery in the extreme while posted in Oman with the Sultan’s army.
His retelling of his ‘Transglobe’ expedition crossing both poles over three years – after seven years planning by his late wife using not much more than a globe – was so engaging and immersive I was left feeling exhausted by the interval.
The sheer extent of his personal achievements would lead others to arrogance but his stories were told with humbleness and humour that made the man so much more likable.
He told of how on many expeditions he would be sat at night hoping that his fellow adventurers would throw in the towel to spare him both the pain of continuing but predominantly the shame of giving up, but they never did and his determination wouldn’t allow him to be the one to call it off.
When asked when he would give up exploring the world he said that wasn’t for him to decide – he could be struck down with illness tomorrow - but that he would continue as long as his body would allow.
A long time I hope, selfishly to have the opportunity to hear him speak again and read more of his stories.