Some people get survival tips from a TV adventurer Bear Grylls. A man who hides his luxury caravan hidden just out of shot. Other people get their tips from Ray Mears, a man who tries to avoid being bitten by snakes but whose very name is an anagram of “Ar! My Arse!”
Me, I get my survival tips from 90s sitcom Friends.
There’s not many 90s sitcoms that you can turn to for survival tips. Frasier could help you charm a maître-d. Only Fools & Horses would warn you about the dangerous lack of support in wine bars. But only Friends could help you in the wild, and by wild, I mean beach. And, by beach, I mean tourist beach, with lifeguards and flags to warn you before you go for a swim. Also ice cream. And cocktails. And a lounger and free towels.
In Friends, six friends, hence the title of the programme, in case you’ve not seen it, go the beach. One of the friends is stung by a jellyfish and another of the friends suggests they, ahem, relieve themselves on the spot where it stings as, ahem, urine, ahem, is a cure for jelly fish stings…
Now, you have to ask yourself how this cure was first discovered. Who’s first thought was “I know, let’s piss on it!” and, having found success in combatting jellyfish, did they try and expand?
“I have a headache, does anyone have any aspirin?”
“No need, I know what to do – let’s stand on a chair and piss on your head!”
“I’ve broken my leg, can someone call an ambulance?”
“Save yourself a phone call – I’ve got a better idea – let’s piss on it!”
In Friends that’s exactly what they do. They piss on the friend with the jellyfish sting and, lo and behold, the friend is cured. Or at least I think that’s what happens. I’ve not seen this episode in years so I can’t absolutely say that there is an episode of Friends where five friends form a circle and piss on the sixth. I can imagine that happening in Seinfeld, but somehow it doesn’t seem right for Friends. Perhaps they all did it into a cup and then it was poured on delicately.
Anyways, whether circle pished or applied from a potty pot, that episode of Friends stuck in my mind and I’ve always known what to do when a jellyfish stings. Fortunately, I’ve never had to put this into practice as I’ve never been stung by a jellyfish. Until now…
I thought I would be during Norseman. I even grew a beard to protect my face. (I say beard, it was more bum fluff with ambition). A beard stops the jellyfish from stinging. But, the beard wasn’t necessary as there was something else that stopped the jellyfish from stinging: cold fresh water. It was too cold and not salty enough for jellyfish in the fjords.
Celtman is a different story. There are thousands of jellyfish in the swim section and all race reports talk about swimming through them.
Luckily, unfortunately, in my first sea swim since entering Celtman I had a chance to experience a jellyfish sting. I was swimming off South Beach in Miami (which, with its loungers, cocktails, warm water and dusky heat is ideal training for the cold sharp Scottish water of Celtman) when I felt small electric shocks along my arm. I knew I was stung but I wasn’t sure by what. I could feel an itchiness and knew I had to swim back to shore and speak to the lifeguard but all I could think was “Is he going to piss on it?”
I’d seen Friends, I knew what happened next.
I climbed the lifeguards’ tower, showed him my arm, now turning blotchy red, and said “I think I’ve been stung.”
He said “It’s a jellyfish, let me get something for that.”
And he grabbed a bottle.
While part of me thought how good it was that he prepared for this emergency by bottling himself in advance, another part of me thought “Please let it be something else, please let it be anything else”.
“It’s vinegar,” he said, spraying the liquid on my outstretched arm.
I smelt chips.
I realized I was the chips.
It was vinegar.
Vinegar is a cure for jellyfish.
Thank you, Jesus!
Now I can tell Iain he doesn’t need a special water bottle to help at transition or that the only place he can go to the toilet is my left arm. Instead, along with the gels, energy bards and high energy drinks, he just needs a bottle of Saxo vinegar – filled with pish.