Gina Davidson: All the best but I’ll just stay put

Lynne McNicoll is about to set off to climb Kilimanjaro.   Picture:  Ian Rutherford
Lynne McNicoll is about to set off to climb Kilimanjaro. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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GIVEN that the average life expectancy for a Scottish woman is 80 years, it’s fair to say, however appalled I am at the fact, that I am now officially middle-aged.

And yet, for some reason I’ve yet to experience the desire to walk up Ben Nevis barefoot, or run the Marathon de Sables, or swim the English Channel naked, or jump out of a plane sans parachute or act in any way like a crazy fool as Mr T might once have said.

I feel I am increasingly alone in my sanity. A quick read of Twitter or Facebook and it seems the middle-aged world has gone bonkers about completing insane physical feats of endurance, wanting to become Ironmen (and women), competing in triathlons, taking up ice-climbing . . . and to think for years I’ve been considered barmy for playing hockey.

Then there are those taking on such challenges under the cover of charity as if that makes it all OK. Well your cover’s blown – the world knows that you’re doing it to pretend you’re still young, still fit, still got “it”, whatever that may be. Taking part in an extreme sport is the new having an affair or buying a sports car when you suddenly realise there are more years behind you than ahead.

Not that the charities mind, the crazier the antics the better for them in terms of raising awareness and money, and giving your time for a worthwhile cause is to be applauded. But I’m just as likely to donate to someone walking 5k round Arthur’s Seat as I am to someone running from Land’s End to John O’Groats with a fridge strapped to their back.

But this desire to take on some kind of impossible feat stems, I think, not just from the desire to do something bigger and better than the next person, but because there’s nothing much left to explore or conquer on this planet. All land masses have been found and mapped and even the depths of the seas have been plumbed. We’ve been to the Moon and they’re working on Mars. There’s nothing much else to do but look navel-wards and write that novel or throw yourself off a building, preferably attached to a hang-glider.

Yet I look at the blistering, bleeding feet of Stewart Brown – brother of Celtic player Scott – after he walked barefoot up Ben Nevis to raise money for Cancer Research in memory of their sister, and I just find myself asking “why?” Wouldn’t he have managed to raise £500 by doing it in walking boots?

And what about the poor family of Philip Goodeve-Docker from Hampshire who froze to death during a fundraising trek across Greenland. It was the first time he’d attempted such a “nutty challenge” as he himself described it, and he died on the second day of what should have been a month-long journey, because his team was hit by a -70C snowstorm.

Edinburgh fundraiser Lynne McNicoll is about to set off for Kilimanjaro to raise money for her charity It’s Good to Give. It’s a great cause and no doubt she’ll be in safe hands and will come home intact, but there’s always the worry, the possible dangers . . . something could go wrong.

Which is maybe why people do it. That element of risk, of pushing themselves, of going somewhere physically, mentally, they’ve never gone before. Good luck to them. I’ll stay at home and think about writing that book.


CUSTOMERS at Asda Chesser are being encouraged to use their shopping trip as a chance to exercise. I just hope there’s not too much lunging, clenching and squatting down the baked beans aisle.

How to drive the trade out of city

IF someone comes into town on a Sunday morning and parks for most of the day, shouldn’t the assumption be that they’re out spending money in the city centre, be it shopping or eating and drinking?

I can’t quite bring myself to believe that drivers, irked by having to pay parking charges through the week, are deliberately filling up city centre bays just to stop others from parking and shopping.

To restrict free Sunday parking to two hours seems like a council plan devised just to suck all the joy out of a leisurely day experiencing Edinburgh’s delights.

Donaldson’s has to learn lessons

SAD to see Donaldson’s School for the Deaf in the news because of its handling of allegations of improper conduct against a member of staff.

Now – four years after the allegations were made – the police are involved, the staff member concerned is suspended and the head and chief executive also suspended while there’s an inquiry to find out why procedures weren’t followed in the first place. It’s all reminiscent of 1998 when the school faced allegations of physical abuse by teachers on pupils. All but one of those proved unfounded, but lessons need to learned that allegations must be taken seriously when they’re first made.

Ins and snouts of farm labour

GIVEN that we’ve all apparently gone mad about babies given the arrival of Prince George and the debate about whether or not a panda might be pregnant, the latest news on the sprog front is that Maisy the pig at Craigie’s farm is expecting to hear the tiny snorts of piglets pretty soon. Piglet Watch has been launched and bets are open on how many might be born. Yes, really.