In an effort to wash away the rage that was building inside me after too many car journeys to work, I paid a visit to the climbing wall at Aston University last week. I really need to start getting on the tram again. Hatred for your fellow motorist hops from car to car like headlice in a school assembly and you quickly become infected. Last week I leant on the horn and hurled abuse at someone only to realise a few minutes later that they had been completely in the right and I, and my horn, had been wrong.

Something had to be done and one of the best ways I know to empty your mind and relax is to potter about on a bouldering wall. Climbing is one of the most laid back sports I’ve ever done, both mentally and socially – getting uptight about a move is the best way to guarantee you’ll fall off and I’ve never met anything but warmth and friendliness from a fellow climber. Once, during a 3 month stay in Santa Cruz in California, I tried to learn how to surf. You know, that easy going, not-a-care-in-the-world, life’s a beach, kinda sport. Rubbish. I met nothing but aggression. On one occasion I got told to f**! off before I’d even got in the water. Aside from that, a ten foot wall of water bearing down on you like a freight train is significantly more frightening than slipping from a rock and sailing gracefully and silently through the air. More dangerous too; I have the dislocated clavicle to prove it, but that’s another story.

I’ve mentioned an indoor wall in Stourbridge in a previous entry; this time I had only my lunch break to fit in a session on the rock resin. If you’re going to climb indoors in Birmingham, there are a couple of choices. You could choose to go and tackle the 70 foot high walls at The Rock Face, but you’ll not have time to tackle many of those feet during your lunch hour and it’s quite expensive unless you put aside a whole day. The alternative is to spend £2.50 and practice your crimping 1 at the wall in the Gem Sports Hall at Aston University. It’s small but quite well formed – technically challenging in some places, all muscle in others. A few minutes cranking hard 2 whilst listening to the haunting soundscapes of the group I mentioned in the linklog a few days ago and I was soon forgetting about both car and horn. I’m not quite in the shape I used to be when I was climbing 10 years ago, but then, who is?

If anybody is looking for a climbing buddy in Birmingham and can deal with the fact that I’ll be in and out again in no more than about 25 minutes, before dashing back to the office, let me know.

Tomorrow I shall be embarking on my first outing with the skateboard I’ve just finished building. It’s been 15 years since I last got on a board, you may expect stories that involve both broken limbs and broken pride. I wonder if they have WiFi at the hospital?

  1. come with me one lunch break and I’ll explain what that means.
  2. Ibid.