Best Days of Your Life
If there’s a sillier concept for a school trip than an IT & Outward Bound course, I’ve yet to hear it. Here we are, deep in the Welsh countryside at a large youth hostel, in a forest. We can’t go outside into the woods unsupervised because there’s an army firing range at close quarters.
Today we were drenched in mud, I mean literally drenched. It kicked off with a ‘blind assault course’ where you do an assault course blindfolded, holding someone’s hand to teach you about teamwork. Most of us in the blindfolds ended up falling over at some point, largely into puddles; it was pouring with rain but that was no deterrent because apparently it rains here all the time. That was the outward bound bit and for the IT bit we learnt how to set up a very basic database. This is a lot better than yesterday though when we went ‘orienteering’. God did it rain. My group went totally off the map and we ended up having to navigate across a bog in our pristine trainers, carrying one of the girls who’d got sick on the coach and fainted when faced with the bog. Someone resucitated her with a KitKat. We were half an hour late but we didn’t care – it was just so good to get back on the coach and have some water, we emptied our bottles hours ago.
One of the girls in a different class said that she saw something in the woods by the hostel this afternoon. She said it was a man, dressed as a priest, carrying a noose. Silly nonsense.
Now we’re back in the dorm – 13 (how inauspicioius) to a room. The mattresses and sheets were all wet when we first arrived – God knows what with – but we’ve learned to live with it. We’ve also learned to live with the dubious-looking stains down the walls. It’s hard to sleep because there’s always someone snoring or talking or getting up to go to the loo. It’s supposed to be lights off now but we’re all messing around, taking silly photos of each other. There’s a rumour that one of the other dorms has got some booze.
But when the teacher’s paid a final, stern visit, snapping out the light and giving us a final warning and everyone eventually gets into bed and settles into silence, well, it’s a bit creepy. There’s some snoring, and the rain drumming on the window, but that’s not what’s keeping me awake. I can’t stop thinking about the priest…and the noose. The image of a tall figure in black, carrying a luminously white noose, lurking purposefully amid the trees, watching the rain stream down, watching our lights go out one by one. How many horror films start with a bunch of stranded teenagers locked up together in the wild wild woods? All of them!