The President's Bit
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Cambridge Underground 1976 pp 7-9


"This one jacked at the pitch", a sneering laugh emerged from the wetsuit cladded caver as he passed our party, followed by a shivering wreck of a boilersuited freshman. What, I wondered did this strange verb refer to ? Whatever it was it was obviously a mnemonic... JACK... jettisonned a chunk of Kra,er Ketchup ?...Jittered At the Critical Kink ? or perhaps a cavers term for er, being taken short, and he'd forgotten to take some er, stationery with him.

"What did he mean by that ?" I asked my heroic, strong, handsome looking leader (Dave);

"Oh!", he turned round; "you know, decided he'd had enough."

So that was it ! Oh indeed, what a disgraceful, shameful, appalling, thing to do; it was obvious that no real caver would ever dream of such a thing, no... I decided that I would never jack ... never ... [Well hardly ever, Ed.]

Friday night in the Helwith, round five of Tetley's; and sitting in the corner is our good friend Norb (so called simply because there is always some silly idiot by that name in this journal). Now poor old Norb has a problem:- He is or at least thinks he is - a well respected caver, and this he intends to stay (He can't actually bring to mind any grade Vs, but he must have done some). Now Norb doesn't like caving, in fact he hates it. Hence the problem. To most people an insurmountable problem, but to Norb, brought up in the best CUCC tradition, nothing is impossible.

Surrepticiously he takes out his reference manual - a rather tatty book with a plain brown paper cover. "1001 classic jacks for the older generation"... He quickly turns to page one:

Jack 1 The Wonder Wyss Whizzard Wheeze

Choose a cave with a complex system and select a party who don't know the cave. Instil confidence in the party - keep them from surveys, guide books, A.Waddington etc.

Set off at a rapid pace, and after taking several turnings, profess to be lost. Disappear and reappear down different passages, witter furiously, swear that boulder chokes have collapsed, Earthquakes have occurred, World War 3 has started, and wait until someone gets bored and suggests jacking. Reluctantly agree. Exit.

"The trouble with that", thought Norb, "is that Geoff tried it only last month, and look what happened to him:- the rest of the party looked at the survey and took him back the next day. So that can't do."

Jack 2 The Evans Erk Epic

Ensure that all the experienced cavers, including yourself, are going on a Super Severe (at the very least). Suddenly realise that there is no one left to lead the novices and reluctantly offer to sacrifice the Super Severe in order to lead a novice trip. If this one doesn't go down too well, it is useful if one of the novices is your girl friend. A few winks, nods etc. should do the trick.

"That won't do either, it's the novices that want to do the Super Severe."

Jack 3 The Norty Neurotic Novice Number

Choose the least experienced (and/or fit) member of the party. Shout at him, kick him, jump on him, accuse him, complain about him, urinate on him, spit at him. Having reduced him to a nervous wreck, take him on one side and "Have a quiet word with him" (1) , if he assures you he is "feeling as fit as ever" (2), repeat above treatment until he confesses to being tired. Now take the leader on one side and tell him that you believe X is suffering badly from exposure and to keep his eye on him. Make further suitable comments and trip up the victim, catching him just in time as he 'faints'. Insist on immediate exit.

"Oh dear, novices aren't what they used to be, they just kick back these days. Anyway I've done that one twice already."

Jack 4 The Swinish Shackleton Sh*t

Choose a long section of constricted passageway, and make sure that you are leading. Approximately one quarter of the way in express the need to relieve yourself URGENTLY. Make a hasty retreat and produce a nasty mess just at the start of the crawl. Mention previous attacks of severe diahorrea having started liKe this. Exit.

"That's no good, I' ve got constipation.."

Jack 5 The Pathetic Perryman Plaintive

Find the tightest section of the cave within easy reach ot the entrance, inflate wetsuit; claim to be stuck. Exit.

With increasing rapidity Norb scanned through the 1001 Jacks - 'The Bert Brady Burble', 'The Goodman Gorgeous Guy Glaze', even 'The Scottford-Smith Supreme Streak', but none were suitable. Then, just as he was giving up hope, he spotted it ! Yes the King of Jacks, the oldest and best, the one he could always get away with...

What was it you ask ! Ah, dear reader, I'm not telling, after all who knows... when I'm old and doddering [So what's new ? Ed.] even I may need one day off.

G.N.Hill, Caius


(1) "Have a quiet word with him."
see Challenge Underground page 113, para 5, line 4.

(2) "feeling as fit as ever"
ditto p 113, para 5, line 5

The President's Bit
CU 1976 Contents Page Next:
The Expedition Report