I was chatting to my brother last night when he casually announced that he was going on a school camp today.

My brother teachers in Thailand and this year changed jobs to teach at what from its Facebook pages appears to be the busiest school in Thailand. Post after post shows pictures of smiling infants, most of whom my brother does not teach. The kids in the pictures are the younger ones who are still having fun at school – dressing up as firemen and doctors and doing science with buckets of sand and learning about nutrition with cookery lessons. It looks so much fun even I want to go there.

My brother’s class are a little older, pre-teen, so old enough to have a more academic curriculum plus the dreaded swimming lessons which were a cause of some concern for my brother last year and the reason that The Thunderer whistle appeared as a present from me in his Xmas stocking.

My brother is not the sort whose natural habit is a cabin in the woods, but it appears that this is exactly what will be his home for the next two nights (albeit with a 7/11 store conveniently located next door). He is more the type of chap you might find in a leather wing back chair reading a history book, surrounded by bookshelves and papers. I can easily picture him sitting in The British Library, but not in a rude wooden hut in the middle of greenery.

‘I was dragooned,’ he announced, glumly.

Why they had to dragoon him is beyond me, especially after he made it a stipulation of his involvement that he got his own cabin. There are other teachers on the trip as well as ‘an army’ of teaching assistants. They are going to some sort of woodland retreat, no doubt populated by native snakes, where yet another army of camp staff will take the kids through activities, which have been designated as ‘water adventure’ or ‘land adventure’ depending, I suppose how dry one remains while doing them.

But of all the elements, it is the fire that my brother chose to discuss.

‘In case of inferno,’ he said and sent me the link to the camp address on Google maps.

Thailand’s roads can be tricky, but why he decided that this week they were going to be more dangerous than usual when he regularly travels up them for two hours to go to Bangkok is beyond me.

‘I have no idea what to pack,’ he admitted.

Sturdy shoes? I asked.

‘I have none,’ he replied.

‘Your swimming trunks?’ I asked.

‘I may stay in my cabin,’ he said, ‘with a book. I am taking sunscreen, though,’ he added.

‘Take a hat,’ I said, ‘and if the bus explodes, leave the kids and save yourself.’

Not very worthy of me, I know but he is due to face the fourth element, the one I fear the most – air – by flying over in a couple of weeks and I would hate him to miss out.



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