Innocents in the Arctic: The 1951 Spitsbergen Expedition.

p. 115: Otherwise, when confined to the tent, they talked and, when all subjects had been exhausted, either slept or read. In addition to a few books they had newspapers galore, generously supplied by a Birmingham dealer for safely wrapping the fossils and rock samples. The newspapers were used for extra insulation and to mop up penetrating precipitation. When the level of water in the tent exceeded the mopping capabilities of the newspapers, the occupants encouraged the water into a sump and made a suitable drain hole in the sewn-in ground sheet. They, and we three in the other inland party, were all much disappointed to find that all of the copies of the newspaper were of the same date and the same edition. Consequently we all learned some of the text by heart.

p. 123: Phil wrote up his notes and I read. I had brought a couple of books with me, a battered hard-bound copy of Alex Munthe’s Story of San Michele, which I had bought for one shilling, and the Penguin classic, Guy de Maupassant’s Boule de Suif.

I remember being annoyed when the rain drips splattered on San Michele. I am amused to find that I still have both books, San Michele with the warped cover and the dried drip marks and the Guy de Maupassant, inscribed “Colin Bull, for Birmingham University Spitsbergen Expedition, Summer 1951.” I still have a copy, too, of Hints to Travelers (1901 edition) but I can’t find in this edition the passage where I had thought it said that it never rains inland in Spitsbergen. Perhaps that quotation came from a different book or perhaps it was just a figment of our imaginations and some day we shall find that we did bring flysheets.

p. 126, Mike: Talk about a squash! For two hours I read Colin’s Story of San Michele in a sitting position, by which time my left leg has completely gone to sleep. From then until 9.15 am I remain in a kneeling position, with the book on Colin’s hips….

p. 144, (Lionel, Stan, Gordon, and Dave): The four of them were much more inventive of intellectual pursuits than either of the trios of which I was part. They read books aloud, had sing-songs (comprising rugby songs, music-hall ditties, Cornish songs from Stan—many of them exceptionally crude), and played word games (which we did play too, but not often). In bad weather, they spent time in their sleeping bags writing a four-author novel, The Londoner, each taking it in turn to write the next chapter….

p. 146: … Their last night at that campsite was very rainy and the rain continued well into the next day. Stan and Lionel read alternate chapters of The Plague Court Murders. Gordon asked them to speak up, so that he and Dave could hear, and Stan complained that made him lose his voice.

p. 150: Gordon suggested that they write a four-author story, and also a play. Then, with all of them in one tent, they played various word games, including “Famous Men,” during which, Gordon complained, “We actually had to use our brains.”

p. 154, Ted lacks “a good reference book” on bird life.

p. 175, Mike wrote, “Colin read from Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s Worst Journey in the World, to cheer us up with tidbits from “The Winter Journey” when the three of them sledded and camped in temperatures down to -80 degrees Fahrenheit, to show us what it is like to be really cold. The sort of trip that we are on now really shows one what absolute Hell it must have been in the Antarctic in those early days; at home it is impossible to get any real idea.”

p. 178: In case we should start to feel sorry for ourselves I read aloud Cherry-Garrard’s description of the gale and blizzard at Cape Crozier, during The Worst Journey in the World, when the tent blew away and they were faced with returning to base, in darkness and with temperatures down to -80 degrees and lower, without it.

p. 205-6: At this stage Lionel, quite wisely, decided to leave us. Taking only a few of his most exotic rock specimens and leaving behind, among other things, the book Poet’s Pub by Erik Linklater, which he had lent to me to read, he caught the mail steamer to Aberdeen…. I still have the book.