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14 Oct


One year ago a group of 33 miners in Chile were rescued from a collapsed mine. These men spent over 2 months trapped 2,ooo feet underground. Can you imagine how bad that place must have smelled? Unwashed bodies, bodily fluids and solids sharing the same enclosed space. That is truly a nightmare.

I was once trapped with my younger brother Gunnar in a utility closet for an hour and forty five minutes and that was a horrific experience. Gunnar suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and had just eaten egg salad on an onion roll and washed it down with tomato juice ( a truly lethal combination especially to someone with IBS). Our time trapped together was, I felt, a test of our intestinal fortitude, and for Gunnar mostly a test of his intestines. Needless to say we both failed that test, miserably.

The door locked from the outside as we were exploring, two curious brothers, one very dark and cramped space. We found out things about each other that we did not know, and generally did not need to know. Things that I’ve spent the better part of three decades trying unsuccessfully to forget. Years and years of therapy followed that fateful day, as well as a deep seated hatred for all things egg salad. I don’t think we could have made it another fifteen minutes, never mind the two months that those poor miners suffered through. I don’t know how they did it.

I’ve read that one of the miners entertained the others by singing Elvis Presley songs. Can you imagine 6o plus days of listening to a bad Elvis impersonator? I’m surprised that he didn’t get bludgeoned to death during a rendition of “Return To Sender”.  I guess it’s a good thing he wasn’t a fan of Tiny Tim, there would have been 32 miners rescued instead of 33.

I hope these brave men are doing well one year later. I hope their lives have returned to normal, although somehow I doubt it. Less than two hours trapped with a boy with rotten egg flatulence has left me emotionally scarred, I cannot begin to imagine the horror of sixty days of bad Elvis.

This has been “This Day in History” I am Prof Lars von Streudel