Alone in Antarctica.

Aston crossed Antarctica alone and unsupported in 59 days. Her book, hyped as a riveting adventure, is to my mind a rather tepid affair though describing an unusual and impressive accomplishment. She apparently took no books or print with her but jokes about her experience with modern audio practice.

p. 183-84, apparently towards the end of her journey: As a treat to celebrate my good mood and better progress, I allowed myself to listen to the audio material I’d been saving on my MP3 player. Until now I’d listened only to music. I’d learnt from previous expeditions that deciding what music to take on a journey is actually quite difficult to get right. Variety is the key because no matter how much you love a particular genre, album or bnd, over the course of six weeks or more it begins to get tedious. (Preparing for this expedition I had made the mistake of asking friends for contributions from their music collections to bolster the variety of my own and began to notice a theme in the tracks I received in response; Cypress Hill – “Insane in the Brain’; James Blunt – ‘Out of My Mind’; Garbage – ‘Stupid Girl’; Green Day – ‘Basket Case’; Eminem – ‘Just Lose It’; The Eurythmics – ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’. Eventually, I had decided to add variety by adding spoken word recordings. My dad gave me a complete set of BBC Radio 4’s Sceptered Isle series—over 300 hours of British history from the ancient Britons to Queen Victoria. This might not be everyone’s ideal but I love history, so I loaded every single episode onto my MP3 player.

Unfortunately what I didn’t realize was that my particular player logged each individual programme as a separate track and replayed the tracks not in the order they had been downloaded but in alphabetical order according to the title of the episode. What that meant was that I had 300 hours of British history played at me in a totally random order over which I had no control. As I skied through a blissfully serene Antarctica, the digital voice in my ears darted from medieval England to the Age of Enlightment, from the Spanish Armada to the American War of Independence….

I had the same problem with audio books. Each chapter was logged as a separate track and the tracks were played in alphabetical order according to title. Listening to an Agatha Christie murder mystery, I heard the murderer revealed before anyone had actually been murdered. In frustration I returned to listening to music.