Monday, September 26, 2011

Ranulph Fiennes, A Life To Big For Words

That makes it sound like he's dead.  He's not, he's very much alive.  Yay!

But apparently the new movie being released this week is based on one of his books.

At the other end of the spectrum is a small group of writers who conscientiously object to living as shut-ins. First among them is Sir Ranulph Fiennes, whose 1991 novel served as the basis for “Killer Elite,” the Jason Statham-Clive Owen-Robert De Niro testosterone-doused action thriller opening in theaters today. Fiennes (who is the third cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph), has spent his life testing the limits of his mental endurance, flinging himself into the kind of extreme natural environments that might send Bear Grylls running to the nearest Holiday Inn.

It’s not for nothing that the Guinness Book of World Records recently named Fiennes the world’s greatest living explorer. Perhaps it had something to do with his service in the British Special Forces as a demolitions expert. Or for having been a member of the only team to ever travel around the world by land on its polar axis. Then there was his aborted attempt to traverse the North Pole by foot, which was cut short when he lost the tips of his fingers to frostbite. That didn’t stop him three years later, at age 59, from running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. And that’s not all: Two years ago, Fiennes became the oldest British person ever to summit Mount Everest. Throughout it all, Fiennes has managed to find time to write some nineteen books, fiction and non. Fiennes is first among very few writers daring enough to lead a life less ordinary than the books they write.

This leaves out the fact he found the lost city of Ubar in the desert of Oman.

I 've been a big fan of Ranulph's for years.  When he had the frostbite thing to his fingers and the doctors wouldn't amputate them soon enough for his tastes, he went into the shed at his farm and cut them off himself.
God, I love this guy.

As a young man, he was so handsome he was beautiful.  He had a transcendent relationship with his first wife, Ginny, who tragically died of cancer.

Remember the little ditty "ride a fine horse to Banbury Cross"?"  It's not fine, it's Fiennes and their ancestral home is near Banbury.  In another couple weeks I'll be a complete authority on his ancient family history since I'm reading his book Mad Dogs And Englishmen which is an absolutely fascinating account of one family marching through the top of British society for the last 1000 years.

He makes his cousins look like slackers.

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