Stephen Cassidy

stevo smartStephen is an Aussie engineer whose first contact with Justin (guts intact) was in Denver Colorado in or around 1995.  Justin was amongst a group of Britons and Celts exiled from Swansea (or somewhere) to the American colonies to work on early computer designs (or something) who had then inexplicably  decided to put on a ‘Panto’ (from pantomime – quaint English Christmas tradition) based on the ‘Puss in Boots’ story.  Stephen is not sure how he ended up in the audience, promise of free booze probably, and doesn’t recall Justin’s role (heroine?) but has never been able to wipe from his mind the performance of their solidly built Irish mate Francis in the character of a fairly princess.

Despite this unpromising start to the relationship, friendships blossomed and a raggedy group of Poms, Paddies, Canucks and Aussies with their rotating cohort of local ladies cut a swath through the American heartland.  Justin, Stephen, Mitch and Johnny formed a biker/stock investment gang called the ‘Asolos’ (pron: Ar-solos), named after a pair of hiking boots, which roamed the countryside on motorbikes and lost money on mid-sized Canadian gold stocks (see Bre-X debacle).  It was a golden time. . .

Stephen agreed to accompany Justin on his 2010 escapade of kayaking from Manchester to London along the canals of England during a telephone conversation of which he has only the haziest of recollections.  Still, a leisurely paddle along idyllic waterways, stopping at bucolic public houses for a few quiet pints and a ploughman’s lunch – how bad could it be?  Although further developments had indicated that the venture may have turned out to be a little more of an undertaking than initially supposed, Stephen relied on his natural athleticism and general ignorance to get him through, plus the firm belief that; if Justin could do it, surely so could he. The trip proved to be a triumph of hope over ability, with Justin eventually handing over a giant check for more than £20,000 pounds for bowel research.

Before that trip Stephen had just completed a twelve month contract in Calgary, Canada where he was involved in planning toxic tailings dams for northern Alberta oil-sands mines when not designing strip coal mines through the rainforests of Borneo.  After a series of nightmares involving orangutans throwing rotten mangoes (good arms for such short fat fellows) he embarked on a road trip to Alaska to clear his mind before heading over the pond for further shenanigans in the British Isles. Since that first Gutless Kayak he has spent a further 12 months based in Jakarta wrecking more havoc on the environment before his conscience forced him out.

At the time of writing he was travelling on a month long scuba diving tour of Bali before returning to the UK for the 2013 adventure. He is also wondering how he got himself mixed up in this insanity again…