Part II - The swamp.
Still jetlagged some four days later, I was put on a Quantas plane to Papua New Guinea along with the rest of the crew. I hadn't yet met the 'celebrities', and was told they were being prepared in Australia by spending some time with the producer in a rainforest camp near Cairns. We flew further inland on some very rickety planes and landed at Goroka, from where we were driven to a camp somewhere in the middle of a patch of forest. I didn't recognise the place, and was somewhat surprised by the choice of location for the camp. About two hundred meteres from where the tents were pitched was a swamp. Mosquitoes are very fond of swamp, and I immediately had the premonition that we might be their main source of food for the next few weeks. I checked my supply of insect-repellant and was relieved to see that Mrs Dr McCrumble had packed an extra cannister of my own pungent concoction. It was a matter of some small pride that I had never been bitten by a mossie anywhere whilst sporting my own repellant (the exact recipe I cannot reveal, but I can tell you that one key ingredient was the produce of the sweat glands of Denise, my faithful receptionist).
The crew were a sullen bunch, and I found it difficult to converse with them as they went about setting up the set. They had brought with them all sorts of equipment and props, none of which I could fathom as to their use. When I asked what this piece of plastic pipe, or that airgun, was for, they shrugged and told me it was the producer who told them to bring it. At nights, they would sit around drinking beer, swatting mossies and regailing each other with stories about women they had met in other parts of the world. I felt excluded, having given my heart to Mrs Dr McCrumble at such an early age and never having played away, so to speak. Their crudeness unsettled me so much that I tended to withdraw early to read through back issues of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medics, a journal edited by my eminent forefather, Prof Ebeneezer McCumbernauld (RIP). The green paste I slathered over my body each evening did the trick, but each morning I would see numerous new marks on the hands and faces of the crew. They asked each other if anyone had any repellent, but somehow they had all forgotten. Though I had no reason to distrust them, I locked my own repellent away each morning
After about five days of, well nothing much happening, the producer and celebrities arrived. I was relieved to see the jeeps pull into the compound, and as they disembarked I wondered out loud why it had taken them so long. I also pointed out that we were camped next to a large swamp and that mosquitoes were a well known risk factor for several nasty diseases. The producer ushered the celebrities towards their tents before telling me simply that there had been some 'technical difficulties' in Cairns. Some minutes later I was finally introduced to the celebrities as 'Dr McCrumble, the camp doctor'. This raised some titters amongst the crowd, for reasons I could not fathom, but I did have to correct them on one point - that I am not, in fact, medically qualified. On hearing this, the producer took a long drag on her cigarette and drew me to one side. She told me in a whispering but firm tone that I was contractually obliged to act as medical consultant, and that I should not alarm the contestants any more than necessary. Did we understand each other? Yes, I said, though I was a little perturbed by her sullen manner, and the sharp grip she was exercising on my arm....