“I am just going outside. I may be quite some time” My Raymond used to say that after he had had a curry. But in those days we didn’t really know what a curry was. What we used to call a curry was a panful of stew that had been on the go for a few days, spiced up with a bit of Vencat curry powder. It hardly tickled your tonsils at all, but
me and Raymond used to think that we were proper gastronomic adventurers when we had it. Curry and dumplings! What Raymond meant when he said that he was just going outside and he might be quite some time, was that he was going to the outside toilet (which was all we had in those days) and, because of the effects of the curry, he might take a little longer than usual. He used to use a bit more paper than usual as well, so if I thought we were due a curry, I would buy a Daily Telegraph as well as the usual Mirror a few days beforehand, and have it all ready for him, cut into squares and hanging off a nail on the Khazi wall. Whatever my Raymond used to get up to in on the toilet after our curries, was nothing to the hardship that Captain Oates endured when he told Captain Scott and the boys that he was just going outside, and that he may be quite some time. They were on their way back from a camping trip to the South Pole, and they were all ruddy starving and freezing. And to make it worse, the Norwegian comedian Adrian Edmudsen had already got there before them and eaten the last of the penguins. Poor old Oates’s feet were killing him, as well as his leg aching from where he had been shot in the Boer War. I know just what he must have felt like. I was a slave to my bunions, and my legs were never the same after my Raymond dropped a tea tray on them while we were in the caravan in Withernsea. When it was frosty I never fancied the walk to the corner shop for my groceries, and I doubt Captain Oates would have, either. It could be treacherous out there. Anyway, out he went, into the blizzard, and was never seen again. Captain Scott and the boys died a few days later. But not before being beaten to the invention of the porridge oat by some Norwegian Quakers… but that’s another story. Here on the other side Captain Oates spends much of his time sitting in front of a blazing fire, warming his phantom toes. He occasionally enjoys a reunion with Captain Scott and Adrian Edmundsen and the gang, for a game of cricket followed by a slap up feast. Captain Oates’ advice to the living: Prepare for winter, by stocking up on essentials, so that if the worst comes to the worst, you will not have to go outside for any length of time. But if you do… For goodness sakes, wrap up warm.