Book Reviews

Super-Ted And The Pothole Rescue

Mike Young
Muller Blond & White 1985 s/b 75p

Although this book was published in 1985 it has never become well known amongst the caving fraternity. I make no apology for reviewing it now since it is an important work worthy of wider readership. Like that other classic of cave rescue literature; Boone's 'The Great San Augustin Rescue' this book is a thin paperbound volume which tells a powerful and thought provoking tale of adventure and heroism.

The narrative by Mike Glory is fast moving and easy to read. Strangely the incident described avoided coverage by the media and even the CRO appear unaware of its occurrence. I am sure that Messrs. Eyres & Franklin would have devoted space to it in their 'Race against Time' had they known of it.

The story is of the rescue of two young girls trapped by rising water in a pothole. The author is non-specific about the location of the cave or the identity of the rescuers but is evident that the particular hairy and brash individual who goes by the nickname of 'SuperTed' is a Yorkshireman. SuperTed receives the rescue call-out and, presumably because everyone else is down the pub, he chooses to attempt the rescue with the only person available: an incredibly spotty, inept and arrogant youth (probably a university fresher). The spottyman thinks he is clever enough not to need a helmet. No sooner are they in the cave that he bashes his head on the roof and falls, unconscious, over a waterfall. SuperTed now has to rescue the spotted dick, as well as the two girls. Being a bit of a hard man he, single handedly, undertakes the triple rescue which involves him in free diving sumps, squeezing through mobile boulder chokes and climbing pitches un-lifelined. Luckily he had remembered to bring his "rocket boots" with him. These are novel devices, not widely used in the UK, without which the rescue attempt would have failed completely. More by luck than .judgement, the rescue is a success but the trail of unnecessary blunders should be a lesson to us all. This is a book that every caver should read and one which begs a number of questions that the reader must answer for him/herself

As the leader, should SuperTed have allowed Spottyman into the cave without a helmet?

Is a team of two people sufficient to mount a full scale rescue?

Why wasn't the CRO called out?

Will rocket boots ever supercede SRT in British caving?

Caving Literature New In 1988

Chelsea Speleological Society Records Vol. 8
Caves & Tunnels in SR England Pt 8

Yet another of this long running series. This time the bounds of SE England have been broadened to Norfolk and Suffolk in order to locate new material to record.

Studies in Speleology Vol. VII 1987
William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust Ltd.

The latest in this highly irregular but excellently produced series of Journals contains papers on speleology in the USSR and China and archaeological finds in the Ryedale Windy pits.

Living Underground - A History of Cave and Cliff Dwelling
David Kempe. The Herbert press 1988 256pp.

An epic work covering man's use of caves, both natural and man-made, throughout history. A bit of a hotch-potch of information by an undoubted enthusiast.

National Geographic Vol. 174 No 4 October 1988

In a series of articles on the origins of man this issue contains a lavishly illustrated article on "Art treasures from the Ice Age-Lascaux Cave".

An Introduction to Cave Surveying - Bryan Ellis
BCRA Cave Studies Series No 2.

A thin booklet giving a concise introduction to cave surveying. this book replaces its more extensive predecessor "Surveying Caves" also by Bryan Ellis.

Northern Caves 1 - Wharfedale & the North East.
D. Brook. G. Davies. N. Long & P. Ryder Dalesman Books

The first of a proposed 3 volume revamp of the previous 5 volume set. This volume is thicker and has a plastic cover and stitched binding. The text, whilst updated, is still in the familiar, rather out-dated, format.

Allan Ockenden