The Cost of a Good Laugh

Dear Tim,

Regarding playing practical jokes on expedition, from my experience I would recommend extreme caution with this. Your sense of humour may be very different from the participants.

In 2006 I was running a series of schools expeditions in the desert in the Sinai. Each school group would fly out to us in Egypt and I would organise to take them trekking with the local bedouin while accompanied by teams of camels through the desert. After three months the final team of students and teachers were going through a period of acclimatisation and pre-training at our base camp in St Catherine’s and I was getting a bit restless and mischievous.

The whole team were departing on a two-week trek through the desert early the following morning and I was doing the evening briefings for the team. After the covering the initial subjects such as avoiding heat illnesses, wildlife safety, the structure of each day, I got onto the topic of ablutions and said I would call people out in alphabetical order to hand over their toilet paper rations. 30 pairs of eyes stared at me intently as a colleague standing next to me with a clipboard called out the first name.


Young Adams walked up to me as I tore off a single sheet of paper and handed it to him. Young Adams turned around and walked back to his seat.


The next young student walked up to me and I tore off a single sheet of toilet paper and placed it in his shaking hand. As he made his way back to the rest of the students all their lower lips started to wobble, tears welled up in their eyes and the teachers gave me hideous death stares. Needless to say they were not amused. My advice - keep the practical jokes to yourself.

I’ll tell you about the rubber snake another time.