Thursday, January 01, 2009

You've Made your Bed of Nails...

I spent Christmas day reading an edifying book called The World's Most Fantastic Freaks. What better way to deal with the existential horror of Xmas? Anyway, inside were all the usual suspects: Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man; Yu Chenhuan, the Wolf Boy; and Jo-Jo, the Dog-faced Boy.

In the Freak Skin section, however, I came across a name I'd never heard before. I would have expected the endurance record for lying on a bed of nails to belong to a Zen master from Tibet or some yogi mystic living in a hindu temple in India, not Ken Owen, a council clerk from Tonteg.

Back in 1986 Owen (then aged 48) spent 300 hours lying on a bed of nails. The bed consisted of 600 very sharp 6 inch nails spaced 2 inches apart. Unphased by this he also, during the feat, had 51 concrete blocks smashed on his chest. Crazy guy. The father of two had been a practitioner of martial arts for over 30 years and was a black belt in both judo and karate. He was also a former Baptist preacher.

Ken completed his miraculous stunt at his local pub the Three Horseshoes, Tonteg. When it was all over he expressed a desire for a lager and lime. I have a cartoon image in my head of the alcohol spouting, sieve-like, out of the myriad holes in his body. Ken still does a bit of lying on a bed of nails for charity. And his amazing world record of 300 hours remains unbeaten to this day.