Before you get excited, I didn’t actually go bog snorkelling. I may be mental but I’m not that mental.
According to Wikipedia, bog snorkelling began in 1976 near Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales (the smallest town in Britain). They hold the world championships there every year and apparently the world record was broken this year by a woman.
Bog snorkelling, as a sport, involves swimming in a 60 yard trench cut into a peat bog. Apparently, the competitors have to swim the length of this trench twice using only the power of their flippered feet and a snorkel to breathe. The person with the fastest time wins.
I had received a text message from the extras agency I’m registered with saying that, if I was free on this day, then I should text back ‘bog snorkelling’. My first thought was that this was a wind up and ‘bog snorkelling’ was a euphemism for something. Nevertheless, I text back the words and received another message later saying that I had to be at Camber Sands at 7am on Tuesday. It also said that I should wear ‘country clothes’.
My attempt at country clothes consisted of a pair of brown cord trousers, my walking boots and a faded black macintosh. Many of the other 40 extras had fared far better. All together, we looked like enthusiasts at a tractor show. After breakfast and a chat, we were loaded into minibuses and taken into a field that had a muddy ditch separating it from the one next door. Standing by the side of the ditch, amongst the camera crew, directors and make up people, was a blond haired ‘surfer dude’ in a wet suit.
A couple of forty-something women in wellies, who had become my single serving friends, and I all exchanged a look as the pong from the ditch reached our noses. “Is he really going in there?” a dark haired woman asked.
“I think so,” I said.
I was right.
The smell was suddenly amplified when the man in the wet suit jumped into the water-filled ditch. It came up to the bottom of his chest with its thick green layer of scum and a large cloud of mud formed around him as he disturbed the thick sludge on the floor of the ditch. We knew that there was thick sludge down there because the director – it was an advert we were making here – asked the snorkeler to smear it on his hair and face. The universal ‘gross-out’ sound rose up amongst the extras on both sides of the ditch.
For the next hour or so, we watched the snorkeler jumping out of the scummy water, swimming in it and dunking under it. We cheered when we were told. We even had to cheer silently for a couple of shots (which was weird and rather awkward).
It was only 11am when we were bussed back to the base camp where we were told to wait until we could all be signed off. A few of us spent this time on Camber Sands watching a kite buggier totally fail to get his kite up. To be fair, he got the thing in the air but as soon as he jumped on the buggy, the poxy thing fell down into a crumpled pile on the sand. We tried not to laugh.
By 11.30am, I was back in the car, on my way home, thinking about my ex-colleagues who had started back at school that morning. My mind conjured a picture of them sitting in all those bullshit beginning of term meetings with the management team while I was watching a bog snorkeler and pretending to cheer. I grinned.