Back in summer the current Mrs o1w coerced me into a family outing to one of those "Go Ape" sites where you pay to do an "assault course" of scramble nets, zip lines and so on. The youth section of the tribe were full of trepidation, not least as I'd spent a month winding them up. On the day, glorious weather, a safety brief, instructor tied each of them into a climbing harness and safety ropes, and off they go. Now in fairness to the organisers they've taken a typical assault couse, made it about a mile long, smothered the thing in Health & Safety and make a packet from it. I'd been relegated to reserve, coat carrier and cameraman, and even dragging brother in law's dog around ( a sort of hairy long wheelbase rat), covered the course on the ground in about 15 minutes. The contestants on the other hand were not expected to finish in under half an hour, allowing that many were small children/fat/unfit/old/speshul etc. I was rather amused to see instructors using safety lines to climb 3 steps up to a platform no more than 3 feet off the deck. At this stage ( the start) Mrs o1w sensed boredom and sent me off to keep out of trouble. So, of course, being Old & Bold-ish I found trouble just round the corner in the form of one of the "Rangers". Nice bloke, as it turned out, and as you do we got talking while watching an asortment of families meander their way through the treetops. "Half an hour to do this?" says I, "when I were a lad..."etc, etc. I did say this was a good bloke. Understood immediately the longing gaze, the heightened readiness, the dozy look of a punch drunk boxer hearing a bell..."Squaddy?" he asked, " Was!" says Mrs o1w, who has a habit of finding me just when things are looking up. "Is this what it was like when you did it?" she asks. "Errmm, not quite.." I said, and asked friendly Ranger if they'd ever done the course against the clock? Unofficially, yes, they had, but still had to use all the safety gear, lap time a quite respectable 11 minutes. "And how could they make it more exciting?" asks Mrs o1w. Me and Ranger grinned, understood these "man" things, and he said: "Add some PTI's screaming abuse, the section fatty stuck and being booted by the rest of the section, a few thunderflashes, smoke and CS to make things "realistic", and maybe some machinegun fire to speed things along" Memories of a misspent youth flooded back, and then more memories of falling off, busted ankle, burnt hands, fcuking Cypriot wasp stings that make you blind for 3 days, and I wonder...... why we had to be able to swim 100 yards, but then you'd paddle your canoe/sail your dinghy 3 miles out? why the novice climbing pitch was about 10 feet high with holds you could get both arms and legs in, but the next level up ( no pun) was a sheer face 200 ft high and barely an indent big enough to get your fingernail into? Were we that young and carefree, or did we worry less about safety, in a world where our life expectancy vs 3 shock was about 48 hours max? Gentlemen, over to you. And please note, I have at no time mentioned sh*ds.