Prendegast ap Tyrol stared at the diorama and fumed. How could they? They’d made a half-decent job of his face, with just the right depth of chin-dimple and rendering his cheekbones at an encouragingly rugged thirty degrees. And if his complexion was more Everglow than Everest, his nose was less the blob than reality.
He tuned back into the curator, aware she had said his name with especial emphasis and essayed what he hoped was a winning, if enigmatic smile. Not that she deserved it. She seemed to be listing his latest feats – the 24 hour free dive, the runs up the top seven highest peaks without oxygen, the ultra-crawl across the Gobi desert drinking only his own urine. Someone sniggered; someone always sniggered.
Prendegast shifted feet. He wasn’t used to standing still and his right buttock began to cramp. Had they cut off part of their own arse to survive, he pondered? Of course not; steatopygic to a man. He could live off them for weeks.
He blinked back to the auditorium. The audience had fallen quiet. The presenter held the microphone towards him, clearly expecting him to reply to her remarks. They expected him to be grateful, to reciprocate her sentiments. After all they’d given him his own permanent display, in the Explorer’s gallery at the Achievers’ Museum, highlighting his many feats of endurance, pushing the boundaries, exploring man’s limits and then going beyond. Well, no. He knew he was part of the pantheon of greats and they done this to him. He’d overcome many setbacks, risked humiliation and death. But not this.
Burton and Speke had their sola topis, Bleriot his aviator’s hat, even that upstart Fiennes had a bobble but what did they do to him? Give him a baseball cap. On backwards.
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