bindon

BINDON MACRUPERT: MacRupert grew up in a remote corner of Somersetshire, the son of a ”gentleman” farmer. He was a scruffy and unkempt boy, prone to flights of abstraction. After being home-schooled, he attended the Glasgow School of Art. Upon graduation, he went directly into the Corps with art school friend Ian Brockman. Together, they became frequent expedition partners. It appealed to REC head Gordon Bindon-Bhore”s sense of whimsy that two such disparate characters should be thrown together. Men were often picked for their incompatibility, so that Bhore could observe their interactions “for experimental purposes.” Any combinations that would yield ”unpredictable decision-making” were deemed successful. It was said that MacRupert and Brockman never participated on an expedition that did not in some way result in a fiasco.

ian

IAN BROCKMAN: The urbane and at times effete Brockman was born in Hampstead, the son of Jewish intellectuals. After attending the Glasgow school of Art, he was recruited directly into the Royal Excavation Corps to work in their archaeological forgery division as a researcher and object fabricator. Bhore had hired Brockman almost immediately on account of his smart appearance: “Brockman could spiff up even the most recalcitrant whacker; I knew any expedition of which he was a member would at least look good.” More likely, Bhore shrewdly realised that Brockman's no-nonsense demeanor would bring some much-needed credibility to the REC’s often bizaare undertakings. Brockman’s main weakness was his almost perpetual hunger: “a good man, but he does want constant feeding” Bhore noted in one of his yearly personnel assessments.

westcott

GERRARD WESTCOTT: Contrary to his claims that he grew up an impoverished miner’s son in Carmarthen, Gerrard Westcott was actually the son of the Marquis de Cynwyd, an eccentric French-speaking Welsh aristocrat with a penchant for dressing his sons up as little girls. Gerard detested this, as he did Eton, where he became a southpaw boxing champion, and subsequently Cambridge, where he specialized in languages; once he came of age, he fabricated himself a proletarian background and became something of a champion for the cause of miners. Yet there remained in his character a subtle streak of decadence, of self-indulgence that was to become apparent over the course of the expedition. Despite fears that Westcott's abrasive personality would prove a severe annoyance, his skill with languages proved invaluable to the expedition.

balog

BALOG: Although not an offical member, the Buryat shaman Balog became the expedition’s guide after rescuing the expedition during a storm near the Indirka frontier. Both his origins and ultimate fate remain unknown. According to eyewitness accounts described in the expedition’s logbooks, he escaped into the Kryazh Chekanovskogo mountains during the huge NKVD roundup of native leaders in 1946. It is also quite possible that he was already a fugitive from the communists when he met the expedition. No known photographs exist of balog without his mask on, and his name doesn't appear in any of the voluminous bureaucratic paperwork on the Indigirka region. There is some evidence that he was schooled in the bon-po tradition of tibet, not least of which is the mask itself, which is clearly not buryat in origin.