Cambridge Underground 1985 pp

Motivating Cavers
How to stop Your Party Getting Stuck in the Pub

by Mark Russell

Many cavers will recognise the above problem. Often perfectly keen cavers winge horribly at the prospect of going underground, but will, once underground, have the time of their lives. These people need to be helped to overcome this reluctance to "get on down", and therefore I feel it is useful to provide a list of some of the species' more common excuses and the relevant antidotes.

1) The "Let's have breakfast in Bernie's" jack.

A difficult one to counter this, given its apparently reasonable nature. It thus needs to be fought vigorously, since weaker members' resolve to go underground will weaken in direct proportion to the length of time spent in Bernie's (or, for that matter, the Burrington Caff - South Wales is probably the area where this ploy is least likely to be spotted).

The antidote is, of course, to go straight to the cave entrance, refusing to contemplate any such refreshment stops.

2) The "I've forgotten my skids/towel/cell" jack.

A feasible one this and easily countered by reasoned argument (unlike the above jack, persons anchored to a pint of tea can become very unreasonable). Who needs skids underground anyway with all that lovely cushioning neoprene? A towel is not vital - a vigourous naked run will soon warm the unlucky caver up, and, anyway, this mishap does not actually prevent you caving. Loss of light is harder to counter; perhaps a switch of venue to Alum or Rowten?

3) The "Oh, do borrow my kit" jack.

Often clutched at by desperate men this one, but can be very effective, since one such jacker can provide a lot of kit which other "reluctant" cavers can be persuaded to borrow. Not to be encouraged though, despite this potentially useful spin-off.

4) The "It's opening time" jack.

Very similar to the "Bernie's" jack [q.v.] this, and to be discouraged for the same reasons. Besides where will it end - carry outs being used to justify jacking? Safety can also be used to counter this; imagine the danger if a party is unable to find the entrance but finds its transport is back at the Marton Arms. After all, no caver wants to be treated for exposure without ever getting underground .... do they?

5) The "God, I feel awful" jack.

Very easy to counter this. Point out the refreshing properties of a nice sporting streamway, the way a delicate traverse concentrates the mind wonderfully, etc, etc. If necessary pour scorn on protestations of illness, denouncing them as merely a plot to get to the pub (see above). However, if the would-be jacker really does seem ill, do not move the casualty; administering a stomach pump may be welcomed, but do not expect fulsome thanks.

6) The "Look at the weather" jack.

Another easy one to rebut. From the security of your changing spot inside the minibus point out the invigorating properties of a grade V change, and how much warmer / drier / generally nicer it will be underground. Suppress all talk of 17 mile route marches to the entrance and of what an awful trip this cave actually is.

7) The "I can't find the entrance" jack.

Frankly, pathetic. So what? Just get down something - anything! So long as the party is underground some face can be saved and lines shot in the pub afterwards. Do exercise a degree of caution in your choice of entrance though; do not disappear down one that turns out to be a long dark shaft instead of a short, light crawl, unless prepared for it.

8) The "I've done it before" jack.

Great! You knpw all the tricky bits and can impress the novices. You can also dam streams and then release them all over novices, lead them round in circles until someone notices (good in Swildon's, this one), and generally have fun at their expense. Remember, a winge shared is a winge halved.

9) The "Someone must clean the dump" jack.

Very feeble. Experience has shown that cleaning the dump in order to ensure a speedy departure when the real cavers return is the last thing on the minds. Far more important to them is usually a trip to Bernie's [q.v.] or the Marton Arms [q.v.], after which they may well be in no fit state to clean anything up. Appeal to their good nature, wallets, and generally keep car or minibus keys well away from them (this applies to all jackers, in fact).

10) The Jack of the Year [q.v.].

For a detailed description see the section on the dinner awards. Difficult to counter, but not suitable for an en masse jack (fortunately), since the driver will probably notice if more than half of his passengers are elsewhere (eg. "getting glass of water" - honestly!). Also, it should be pointed out that the tackle store is not a proper cave, since it require no odd clothing. A roll-call prior to departure seems the obvious countermeasure.

As an interesting conclusion, it should be noted that no-one (to my knowledge) has yet pulled the obvious jack, ie. "I can't cave on a Sunday, it's against my religious principles". This would, I feel, be almost certain to succeed, since everyone else present would probably be struck dumb with amazement. Any suggestions on how to counter this last, and most sophisticated argument?

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