I will never forget the time I climbed Mount Killymanjaroo with Dicksworth. We’d slathered suncream all over ourselves before leaving base camp and were later very glad of it. We started early, the weather on the mountain is unpredictable and we needed to be at first camp by sundown. We debated a setting-off time and agreed on two o’clock in the afternoon. Dicksworth wore a freshly-laundered tea towel on his head, I wore my normal hair.
Puffins were clustered on the north face where we’d planned to begin our ascent, but the sherpas all agreed that this would be no barrier to a successful climb. I was dubious, but Dicksworth was keen to get going. Our equipment checked, we set off. The first obstacle to overcome was a pride of yaks. We’d been warned it was the rutting season, but the sherpas again assured us that this would present no problems. Dicksworth was fascinated by the way in which the male yaks clung, upside-down, to the sparse branches of the juniper trees growing on the lower slopes. I had to drag him away by the ears.
By the time we’d travelled a hundred yards or so, I was in a bad way. My chest was heaving like a harlot’s mattress and I was being severely tested by blisters exploding through my shoe- leather. Nevertheless, I was determined to continue and pressed on regardless. After about four hours, we reached the north face. It was rated two on the difficulty scale; we knew it would be a trial.
Dicksworth sat down to untangle the baling twine we’d use as a safety line. I unpacked the meat skewers borrowed from Mrs Dicksworth for the purpose of anchoring us to the rock face. It had been agreed that I would take the lead, so I looked up, gauged my route and put my foot in a crevice. To my surprise, a puffin shot out, its beak attaching itself to the crotch of my jodhpurs. I screamed, more in shock than pain, and fell two feet, landing on Dicksworth’s rucksack. He looked at me with pity in his eyes, so I poked him with a skewer, thus removing any vestige of pity, and with it, several fluid ounces of blood.
I brushed the puffin from my crotch and watched as it danced gleefully away. By now, the weather was closing in. We had to make a determined effort to get to first base or we’d surely end up as two more lifeless statistics on Killymanjaroo’s slopes. Before I knew it, Dicksworth shoved past me and began climbing. I had to admit he was doing rather well. He’d wisely bypassed the crevice and taken the more difficult line up the Chimney. Clouds of soot billowed round me as I followed in his wake, but I wasn’t about to let the cretin get the better of me. A miraculously-bearded man in a red suit hailed us as we passed a recess, but we ignored him and kept going, even though he offered to sell me an elf.
By now, Dicksworth had reached the place where we’d planned our first camp. When I arrived, he’d assembled the IKEA beach hut carried in his rucksack, the kettle was on, the table laid. We toasted ourselves by the Jotul wood burner and yarned deep into the night, before falling into bed for what we’d hoped would be a spot of well-deserved shut-eye. How wrong could we be? An hour or so later, I was awoken from a dream about Angela Pringle’s breasts by a blood-curdling howl. I leapt out of bed, tripped over my erection and stubbed a toe on the washing machine. Recovering quickly, I shook Dicksworth. He promptly clouted me with his home-made ice-axe; something cobbled together from a fairy liquid bottle, two toilet rolls and a yard of sticky-backed plastic.
There was a scratching at the door. I looked through the conservatory window. My giblets turned to water. There, flocking on the patio, was a group of vampire puffins! Their beaks dripped blood, they must have recently fed. I prodded Dicksworth again, this time with a large vibrator his mother had given him on his sixth birthday. Apparantly, he’d asked for a teddy bear, but she’d misread his infant scrawl. Once more, I narrowly avoided the ice-axe, as it thudded harmlessly into the bedside cabinet. Gripping him by the nose, I politely suggested that he might care to check the huskies. I half-suspected that the dogs had been the main course on the puffins’ menu, but didn’t let on. As I recall, I gave him some half-baked story about not being able to get my boots on due to having blisters the size of Cornwall.
He left the hut, muttering dark threats. It was several hours before he returned. There was a strange look in his remaining eye and his pyjamas were torn to shreds. I questioned him at length, but he was unable to say how this had happened. He rambled on about how he’d befriended some puffins and that they’d guided him to the summit. The view was not worth a light, he said. When he suggested abandoning the climb to ensure we got back to base camp before the sun came up, I was confused, but agreed and we began the descent without delay. We abseiled down the Chimney using the string and skewers, declining the red-suited man’s improved offer of elves, dwarves and reindeer muesli, and were greeted as heroes by a blind sherpa and his yak fiance. His name, he said, was Drogber Van Elfspring; vampire puffin hunter. Dicksworth shied away, his striped face riven with rage.
Thank you for listening.