It begins, slowly rising out of the swamp like a lawyer at dawn. We clutch our poking sticks to our chests in trepidation as the vague shape stumbles out of the mists towards us. Then, as the features of this unknown beast resolve themselves out of the heavy mists hanging over the swamp, we realise that Old Feebletrousers has – yet again – taken the wrong turning on his way back from The Pervert’s Appendage and spent the night sleeping it off in the swamp.
Of course, we should all be concerned about a person of Old Feebletrousers’ advanced years spending the night in the cold fetid swamp, but it seems to have little or no effect upon him. However, since he does, at the best of times, already much resemble some kind of (semi-)ambulatory swamp, then it is difficult to say whether it ought to become a matter of concern to the rest of us, especially if it means we have to remain downwind of him for any length of time. For it is often difficult to say where the swamp ends and Old Feebletrousers begins, especially in these thick early morning mists.
It is also hard, but leaving that to one side for the moment (where it rests more easily against the thigh), it is difficult to precisely judge the age of Old Feebletrousers himself. It probably won’t be possible to know his precise age until after his death, when there may be the chance of carbon-dating some of his more intimate nether garments, which probably haven’t seen the full light of day since before WWII.
So, despite, or maybe even because of, his advanced years there seems little in the natural world that can do much damage to Old Feebletrousers, whose attitude to the illnesses and diseases that so often beset the rest of us is to deliberately ignore the affliction until it gives up and goes away. Perhaps we ought – in these days of enlightened environmentalism – to be more concerned about what damage Old Feebletrousers is doing to the swamp rather than by what the swamp could do to him.