SECRETLY, we'd all like to be Ray Mears.
We'd all like to be able to furnish a simple shelter in the woods out of two bent saplings, a couple of long sticks, some narrow, peeled strips of bark and some woven ferns.
Fortunately, I am able to do this. From these simple utensils, I am able to furnish two bent saplings, a couple of long sticks and some narrow, peeled… You take my point.
Welcome to my shelter. What's that you say? It's just a pile of sticks and a few leaves?
Ah, but I'm at one with it! It's just that I don't fancy sleeping in it…
Watching Mears allows us to be the man we'd like to be. He is the wise hermit in harmony with the physical world; you are the urban fool asking someone in B&Q to explain it to you.
Even Bear Grylls, pictured, would probably like to be Ray Mears. That way he wouldn't feel compelled to suck the liquid out of the eyes of wild salmon.
The media are having a jolly old time of it on the back of Mears's recently published memoirs. They're trying to beat the pair of them out of the undergrowth and set the whole thing up as one of those McCartney v Jagger, Blur v Oasis kind of battles - a sort of who's wilder than whom.
Right now a salivating TV producer is probably dreaming up a "wild-off" between the two of them.
Where Grylls's antics do seem contrived - thrill-seeking for the sake of the cameras - Mears is much more the quiet man of the woods.
In fact, his very ordinariness is his most appealing quality. You could almost imagine him going off to do some photocopying (and in fact, give him an hour with the bent saplings again and he could probably knock one up for you, using the sun to burn images on to the leaves - and no paper jams).
We know which one is more likely to be the horse whisperer. Mears told an interviewer that he could tell the species of tree by the sound the wind makes through its leaves. That's a beautiful image.
But not as beautiful as when you cut through the cable with the hedge strimmer again and the orange flex hangs like a giant cobweb on the laurel.
Wait a minute. You could use that to support the roof…
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