The Turdicle

by Peter Noble

On reading Dave Hoy's contribution about the "turdicle", I can give a quite detailed, perhaps lurid, account of the first dealing with that unwelcome intrusion into our morning reveries. Things were coming to a head (or more exactly to a bottom - several bottoms) which generated serious discussion one smoko. First there had to be an agreement on terminology: a certain black-gang member who shall remain nameless (but is a Yorkshireman now living in Australia) suggested "shitemite", which geologically speaking and considering the alliteration was perhaps the best term, but it was felt to be a little too, shall we say, "direct"; something marginally more subtle was sought, and "turdicle" was felt to reflect the ambience, even though it was upstanding and not pedunculate. When the chairman directed us to action not philosophy, it was suggested that we should blast it down with the base rifle, but Murray Roberts, our doc, said the blast in a confined space could damage the ear drums. A quieter method was sought and felling axe was suggested, but this necessitated someone descending to undertake the fell deed - but who? All eyes turned on me as the GA with climbing experience (a double whammy). Accepting my true station in life I declined the axe and armed myself with a lump hammer instead. I then screwed a strong hook into a roof timber over the gash hole and suspended a climbing rope. The gash hole (the 45 gallon drum folks will recall) was the only drop wide enough to descend and clear of turdicles. Then after rigging myself with harness and prussik gear - and putting a "do not use" notice on the door - I descended the gash hole. Half way down, I accidentally spun on the rope and knocked lightly against one turdicle, whereupon it collapsed, so I swung gently and kicked the other causing it to collapse also. Hence, job done and without resorting to demolition tools, and feeling quite pleased, I resurfaced and we looked forward to a couple of years of comfortable contemplations.

The second descent was a little more traumatic and had nothing to do with turdicles: It was January '69. I had just returned from the first overland to the Shackletons and had used up all my films. The Perla Dan was in and I was due to embark but wanted a few more piccies before doing so. On unloading trip to the ship, I bought half a dozen films but lacked a bag to put them in, so carried them back to my bunk room in the crook of my arm. En route I passed the loo and, being desperate, called in for a quick pee, only to watch one of my films fall down the pee hole. Undaunted, and now a self professed expert on loo descents, I re-rigged the tackle (and notice) and descended once more. There was the film at the bottom, plain to see; I just needed one step across to pick up. Fortunately a recollection of the previous occasion flashed in mind and I glanced around nostalgically before stepping out of the prussik. But where were the turdicles? Surely they would be starting to grow again, or even just the remnants of my earlier exploit. Nothing . . . and then I realised my film was not "lying" at the bottom, it was "floating". One might say that was the nearest I've ever been to being interred before my time! Interesting scientific note that the "long drop" contents melted in summer despite being inside a deep freeze.

Incidentally, if Dave Hoy suggests the turdicle was attacked again in 1969 I can only say the cooks were feeding the lads far too much.

[12 September 2006]

More on the Turdicle | A related story

26 November 2006
1968 index page
Z-fids home page