The taste of burnt, blackened oatmeal stuck to my tongue and the roof of my mouth, saliva glands pinching in disgust as I assaulted them with mouthful after mouthful of the gloopy, foul-tasting muck that was supposed to be breakfast. I thought nothing could compare to mum’s burnt spuds (sorry mum), but the acrid taste of charred porridge was, by far, winning the worst-foods-to-overcook competition.
|Me at the Cattle Troughs, Swanage|
I was positively sure I was going to die. Tears streamed down my face, my body shook uncontrollably. “I can’t do this,” I heard myself repeat over and over as my self-doubt loomed. But, against the self-preserving urge, I took a deep, shuddering breath, grasped the rope, pushed my bum out to oblivion and attempted the two-metre abseil to the first ledge – some 10 or so metres above a wild, white-crested sea.
Kenton Cool – yes that’s his real name – leans against the desk in Stanfords bookshop. “I assume you all know who I am,” he suddenly says to the crowd in front of him, interrupting his spiel on his love of books and desire to have a house with a library. “In case you didn’t know, I’ve climbed Everest 11 times.”