Oxford University Cave Club

Proceedings 10 : "Pozu del Xitu"

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Speleopyschogenetics II

by W. Anchor

How to Recognise Some OUCC Cavers (if you should want to)

There have been so many interesting and unusual personalities involved in exploring Xitu over the years that lack of space forbids a character assassination of them all. Those that could afford the price do not appear below. If you see one of the below in the street do the sensible thing and cross to the other side.

The John Singleton (photos)

Almost unique amongst OUCC cavers and possibly the strangest, this one still uses rope-walking in Xitu after three years! This has been attributed by various writers to it falling on its head in 1980. To tell the Singleton from other varieties you place it in a maze. The Singleton is the one that finds its way out by demolishing the maze with wild, uncoordinated movements of its large body.

The Graham Naylor (photos)

Pretty small as OUCC cavers go, it can still be seen without the aid of a hand lens. Appears to buy its caving clothes from a rag and bone merchant and has not yet given up rope-walking. It was this caver that was responsible for the rigging of Graham's Balls-Up, the pitch which is known to Graham as Graham's Sporting Pitch.

The David Thwaites

Extremely rare nowadays is this polite OUCC caver that does its share of washing up. Tends to fall off things underground though.

The Stephan Green

Rarely seen in a cave and happier on a Welsh railway, this bearded beast is nonetheless useful for its ability to speak Spanish and hence order drink. Essential to any expedition. Also useful is that this beast's parents have a large house in Nottingham.

The Richard Gregson (M.D.) (photos)

Something nasty about this one. It spends a lot of time dreaming about operating on cavers underground without using anaesthetic. Recognisable by the unusual behaviour of writing postcards continuously to its loved one, this animal should be avoided when it has a knife in its hand. It tends to throw other people's gear down holes.

The David Rose (photos)

You can tell a rose underground by the wailing from the harmonica it uses to call for a mate. Never seen washing up but nearly always eating, this beast has a curious dislike of surveying and a fondness for Rioja. Sane nevertheless as it use sit-stand.

The Colin Nicholls

Even more strange than the Singleton, this one also still uses rope-walkers in Xitu after three years but to our knowledge it has never fallen on its head yet. A curious aspect of its madness is its manufacture of rope-walkers to improve its prusiking when it could more easily change to sit-stand like everyone else has. Another curious feature is that when it runs the kitty you always owe it money!?

The Mike Clarke

Known as 'Skunk' to its friends, this nickname must be taken as a warning rather than a term of affection. Rarely saying much as it contemplates the state of its bowels, this is a creature to be pitied (from a distance). Lives in symbiosis with the Ankcorn.

The Chris Ankcorn

Recently spotted at medical school despite its age, this beast lives in symbiosis with Skunk, trying to discover a cure for its bowel problem. Has a curious behaviour in that it designs unworkable rope-walking systems with cloggers and then returns to using knots as a better alternative. Probably mad.

The William Stead (photos)

Suffering always from a genetic speech impediment known as the 'Eton accent syndrome' this caver spend most of his time eating out an existence in the kitchen. Dangerous when hungry, this starving creature continuously asks questions when underground even though he never gets any answers! Affectionately known as bed-stead.

The Mike Busheri

Probably wrongly classified as a caver, the Busheri emits two kinds of call. On the surface it snores and if you manage to frighten it underground it emits piercing squeals like a pig dying. It has yet to discover a prusiking system that suits its unique style of prusiking, which includes an upside down Gibbs.

The Martin Laverty

Affectionately known as the 'lavatory' though never seen anywhere near clean water let alone a bathroom, this extremely hairy creature had a haircut recently so even we don't recognise it in the street. When in Mulu it was rumoured to look more like a head-hunter than the head-hunters! Never eats anything (which is useful) but insists on trying to prusik with bits of string. Carries luggage for a six week expedition in a shoe box.

The Trevor Menthenway

Its correct name is Neatherway but it is nice to see it get upset when you spell its name wrong. Holds the record for avoiding any prusiking in Spain in 1981 and loves to be in photographs. Claims to be studying an MSc at Southampton Univ. but to our knowledge has never been observed to do any work. Recently asked for a two month extension on a three month project after 'working' on it for four months.

The George Hostford

Most famous for prusiking the Gap on one leg and more quickly than the Nicholls with both legs and rope-walking system. Identified underground by the blur surrounding it because it moves so quickly and the large blue box it carries full of photographic gear to slow it down to our speed. It invented the 'Hostford Chock'.

The Jan Huning

Has sordid dreams at underground camp and tells people about them.

The Jim Sheppard

Instantly recognised by the intense aura of age which surround it. Rumoured to be old enough to have been around when Xitu was first forming, this ancient creature has a wife and child. It is solidly sane, however, being a sit-stander from its earliest days. Possibly due to lack of use its clothing always looks like it just came from the shop.

The Hywel

This was the one roped to the ledge above the big 90m pitch as part of an OUCC experiment to see if an eagle would eat his liver out every day. Hence the worried expression in the photo. Hywel has to be admired as about the only caver capable of caving with Jerry without losing his marbles in the process.

The Jerry Williams

Last and probably least we come to the Jerry. The caver that, with its prusik system, gave a new meaning to the term 'Jerry built'. In 1981 the Jerry took over from the Busheri as the main user of Refugio bunks and the main recipient of stick from the other expedition members. Despite all this it still managed to do a lot of useful caving which must say something about its mental state.