My wife Shara and I both love home, and I have a pretty healthy hatred of hospitals, having had a few bad experiences with my back, so we thought, Let's just try doing a home birth, and it was absolutely brilliant. The cons are that you have quite a lot of blood and gore, and you don't have the emergency help if it all starts to go pear-shaped. But then again, she feels safe and secure, and she's got me hovering over her with a toolbox. What more can an expecting mother want?
All I was there for, really, was reassurance. I had a homeopathic kit, and I thought, I'll just work on diversionary tactics – so the more pain she was in, the more I was going, "What are your symptoms?" and I'd list all these wacky things that homeopathic pills work for.
Shara was amazing. Girls are so great in a big crisis. I've seen it in the mountains, too. Men are all great when it's quite comfy and there's lots of bravado, but when the shit really hits the fan, it's the women who often come through.
How to Survive…a truly "raw food" diet
If I had to make a short list of the most disgusting things I've tried, it would be bear shit, camel stomach juice, raw goat's testicles, yak eyeballs. I've learned what just tastes disgusting but is okay, and what tastes disgusting for a reason. Sometimes you make mistakes. If something's rancid, you don't really know until it's in your mouth. Things like sting beetles, they're quite difficult to tell apart from other stuff. I've put those in my mouth before, and suddenly they squirted this acid, and you know that is not a good thing to eat, that this is a defense mechanism of the animal – get it out.
There is a purpose to these disgusting foods. If you're going to self-rescue, you've got to move. If you're going to move, you need energy, and if you need energy, you've got to find food. The people who survive in all the great stories of survival are people who leave their prejudices behind and do whatever it takes, no matter how unpleasant it is. I'm not like this at home. My kids always want me to go outside and eat worms, and I say to them, "No, you've got to have a sensible job, not like your papa."
How to Survive…strains on your marriage
It's funny: So many men come up to me and say, "I've recently taken up climbing, and my wife is getting really annoyed because suddenly I'm going off every weekend. What do I do?" I sympathize, but I think Shara understands it is my work, and I don't tell her a huge amount about the danger or what I've been eating or what I've been doing. It tends to be, "Hi, honey, how was it?" "It was cold, it was hot," "You look a mess." Then we're back into life. And I like that separation where my work is my work, and when I'm home, I try to focus on really being home.
If you haven't got work as a trump card, the point to make may be that you will bring more to your life together through these activities. You want to be around people who are enthusiastic, and this is how you keep excited about life.