2014 marks the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famed trans-Antarctic Endurance mission. The Shackleton Foundation is celebrating Shackleton’s legacy of endurance and leadership by running the ‘My Antarctic’ campaign, encouraging people to take on their own ‘Antarctic’ challenge. This is a personal challenge you have, something that maybe scares you, but a challenge you would also secretly love to conquer.
I have previously written about the first of the Shackleton Foundation’s trustees to take on a ‘My Antarctic’ by modelling naked for life drawing classes. The second of our trustees to step up to the plate is Karen, who roped in her friend Cassandra for company on her ‘My Antarctic’ challenge: sleeping out. Karen wrote a diary of her experience.
Confessions of a totally unprepared brat: Preparation
Since committing to this venture, people have asked me lots of questions and comments like:
What are you bringing? Why on earth are you doing this? Have you prepared emergency numbers? Are you a f***ing idiot? Why not do a week – one night is pathetic! I hope it rains. Don’t you think you will make more of an impact on the topic in February? Who is the Shackleton Foundation? Why them? Is it a homeless charity? Are you not being disrespectful to the homeless?
Others have been more helpful, like:
Don’t wear your Jimmy Choos! There are 24 hour loos at… I’ve seen some good benches in….. Good for you! Great cause, great charity! There is a huge pile of cardboard boxes outside…
The reality is that I have not really thought much about it till this morning. Call it denial, call it avoidance… As this is the morning of, suddenly all sorts of thoughts are running through my head. Is this just like staying out all night, as I observed partygoers swaying home at 6.45 this morning?
Then I face a sharp reminder, as I see this one man, lying outside the tube station, sleeping under a mountain of dirty clothes, on some cardboard, clinging on to his pillow artfully plumped up with a melange of Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and other rainbow coloured plastic bags. This is the same man I see every day. I wonder why there, why is he alone? Why is he there at all? Is his pillow comfortable? Is he hot? Is he cold? Further up the road, I get very excited as I see something very appealing. A whole pile of flattened cardboard boxes. Yay!!!!! However, my jubilation doesn’t last long as I note that most of them were soaked in last night’s rain. ‘Damn it, I can’t use those now!’ I sincerely hope that it stops raining in time for tonight…..
The thing is, I am very conscious of not looking like I am mocking those who are homeless but the reality is that I won’t know what it is like until I get out there this evening. I don’t know what they are thinking or feeling or why they are there. They certainly don’t have the luxury of worrying about the things that I am concerned about because many don’t have the choice. So until then, I guess, it’s a big fat, who knows?? I sincerely hope that Cassandra is a lot better prepared than I am!!!!!
At 1830, I’m at Cassandra’s flat. I am all dressed in black (because black is the ‘new black’) . I’m ready and raring to go.
Cassandra is fussing about finding her socks. She tells me she is feeling happy and apprehensive but excited. Things could go a bit wonky. Oh yes….! But of greatest concern is that it will be cold and wet.
Best pack her beloved poncho. She goes all ‘method’ and stuffs everything into a big plastic bag. Given that it is a Timpson bag, I wonder if she has delusions of grandeur, homeless style with her need for dry cleaning her wares…
We both take a moment to appreciate sitting indoors, in a lovely clean flat. We wonder what we will be doing in 4 hours’ time.