Outward Bondage

Why on earth would anyone ever, in a million years, sign up for an eight day Outward Bound course for couples? According to Outward Bound’s marketing manager, Greg Thomas it would be so that couples could experience ‘an adventure with their loved one.’ Hasn’t he read Evelyn Waugh? A ‘loved one’ is the one that has passed on. Brown Bread. Which is precisely what I would prefer to be if given the choice between bungy jumping off this mortal coil and being shouted at by my significant other from the top of a rope climby thingy before 6am.

I have enough issues negotiating child rearing and quantities of laundry powder without throwing a rock face and a canoe into the discussion let alone the horror of spending time quietly in a tent reflecting on what I value in our relationship. I might discover that what I value most about the time we spend together is that it makes my weekends away with the girls that much more … special.

Sophie McKay, (An Outward Reboundee) said that doing the course with her partner would ‘help create trust and let them push each other to new limits.” Of course she did. She’s 20. In my case letting the Latin push me to new limits could end up being less like a touching bonding session and a lot like Touching the Void. (If you never saw this documentary… it involves someone dangling at the end of a rope on a rock face and a Swiss army knife. It doesn’t end in a McGuiver happy ending.)

Is this what the recession has brought us to? Next thing you know they’ll be advertising luxury weekends for two… in Invercargill, or workshops on how to make a brew that tastes just like Lap sang Souchong Tea out of cigarette butts.

We haven’t even had a decent go at this recession yet and already I’m bored. Now all the fun has been taken out of my guerrilla gardening attempts because John Key has gone and endorsed it by saying that growing vegetables is a very credible and constructive thing to do. To date my incredible lack of capacity in the gardening department has meant that trifid like waves of kikuyu grass have smothered pretty much everything.

Michelle Obama would probably enjoy Outward Bound for couples. She says even Barrack is going to be out there pulling weeds ‘whether he likes it or not’. Perhaps pulling weeds for economic victory is what is needed in these supposed tight times but I don’t know that it’s ever going to win out against ten pin bowling or a night at the pub. And I’m deeply suspicious of politicians who come up with wonderful new ideas for how the poor can spend their time and money rather than concentrating on the harder and yet more effective job of clipping the ticket a bit harder at the upper echelons of the salary ladder.

It takes me back to that other recession in the early 90’s when the MP Katherine O’Regan suggested that she could demonstrate how much better she could live on a benefit than real live beneficiaries by eating Weet-bix stew and making her own undies out of cereal packets. She had to give up on day two however when she got sick and couldn’t afford any of the medicines. Apparently her calculations had only stretched to an assumption of perfect health (something the poor are not noted for) and a reliance on the already packed pantry that she’d stocked up on the week before on her other, parliamentary salary. From now till the end of the recession – any politicians coming up with brilliant or boring suggestions for how we should all live should be made to go on an Outward Bound course for couples – which is then made into a reality TV show whereby we get to match and dispatch them to their own onset vegetable patch to do a spot of weeding.

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