Walk on the wild side

It’s good to hear that the Russian authorities have allowed Karl Bushby, the persistent pedestrian, to carry on walking across their county. This will help to counter the widespread – yet erroneous – belief that Russians are sour-faced xenophobes who never smile. Great writer though he was, Alexander “Sunny” Solzhenitsyn didn’t really help the image of his countrymen by portraying them as people who did nothing but suffer oppression or, if the opportunity arose, oppressed others. Allowing a lunatic to wander through your land unmolested is clear proof that you can appreciate a good joke as much as the next man. Can Bushby now dare to hope that rosy-faced peasants will greet him warmly during his hike across Mother Russia, inviting him into their homes for the symbolic meal of bread dipped in salt? If I were President Pootikins, I would issue a decree ordering them to do so, on pain of being ravished by the Cossacks. Having opened their door to the itinerant stranger, the Russians should exploit the opportunity to excel in the hospitality stakes as well.

Should we bother to inquire why Bushby is so intent on traversing the globe on foot? Suffice it to say that he is British, an ex-paratrooper and likes to wear a beard. That’s eccentricity, masochism and delusions of hairiness in a single human being. It would be surprising if such a man were not embarked on some foolhardy enterprise. However, I give him credit for staying close to sea level rather than trying to scale some abominable peak. At least walking around the world will let him see a few sights, learn a language or two, and wolf-whistle at any scantily-clad females who cross his path. On the top of a mountain there is nothing but snow and ice, and no man needs nothing.

Wild animals would strongly support Bushby’s right to roam, in spite of being bemused at the pointlessness of it all. There are no fences in the wild and you can go wherever you want within reason. Admittedly, you might get a good drubbing if you belong to a territorial species and stray into someone else’s patch, but there’s plenty of wilderness that belongs to no one. The off-limits areas, moreover, are clearly scent-marked by animals pissing on the trees.

This brings up the interesting question of where Bushby intends to relieve himself while passing through the Russian countryside. Urinating in the forests would confuse the bears, while defecating on the ground would be a gross affront to local pride. The symbolism of a foreigner shitting on Russian soil would surely be unbearable for a nation still recovering from Operation Barbarossa. I would advise Bushby to pee into empty petrol canisters, which could then be donated to scientists interested in the hormonal make-up of the rugged British adventurer. He should also scrape up his poop into doggy bags to be offered to grateful peasants for use as fuel or manure. It’s little gestures like these that will help to build bridges of goodwill and trust between the estranged tribes of the great human family.

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