Third time lucky

I’m going back to er, Glen Affric. The route in there that I was supposed to be writing up for the next (or is it the one after?) issue of Trail got replaced by something else I’ve done. It turns out that taking lots of photies and having a HiFi memory is an arse saver. The route that went in is a cracker, a wee bit of accessible wilderness.
And so Glen Affric, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, again. But, the stakes are higher this time and if it goes on its tits it’ll be very cross indeed.
Truth be told, as well as taking a different way into the hill to write up as a Trail Route later in the year, I’m going in with a proper photographer and what we come back with will be the basis of a feature that I’m writing.
I’m both excited and somewhat apprehensive about this, there’s equal chances of me coming out with something good and cocking it up, costing folk time and money for little return. I quite like that pressure though, it’s a little bit of motivation knocking at the door with consequence hidden in its coat pocket.
We’ve got a 10 day window of opportunity to get the two-day trip done, and I like those odds, a plan with “Aye, it’ll be fine, we’ve plenty time…” printed across its dust-jacket. I feel for the photographer though, he lives 270 miles further south than me, the boy’s going to be ruined with the travelling and the 45kg of camera gear on his back.
I’m looking forward to the trip on it’s own merits, it’s a brilliant route in stunning country and I feel like I owe that hill something for not appreciating it enough the last time(s). I’ll be taking my own photies as well and writing all my usual bollocks on here no doubt, the other stuff? Time will tell.

Getting out of the chair

I was speaking to a pal tonight that I haven’t spoken to in a wee while. It was good, we both had much news to share.

We also had some fine mountain adventures before he had an accident that he came away from with one less limb. It hasn’t been easy for him, and there is no immediate end in sight for the incident to have Case Closed stamped on it. A constant state of waiting. With the internal elastic at full stretch.

This was us a few years ago on Beinn Dorain

We talked about when we’re getting out again, soon it looks like now. The scale and altitude we can work on.

It’s the same for us all. It’s not whether it’s the Eiger or the local park, it’s getting out of the chair.

Just questions

Do you make your own luck? Do you go about your business trying to find an angle, trying to tilt the odds in your favour?

It’s natural to want an advantage. I’ll never criticise a go-ahead nature, the execution of that impulse can leave a lot to be desired of course. But, without it we wouldn’t have the wheel, fire, Plasticine™, you know …

I tend to stand back a bit and where others might “give people a chance”, I tend to “give ’em enough rope”. Is that cynical, jaded, a quirk built of experience?

Is being unlucky just laziness? Or is the cloud over your head obscuring the sunlight so that the obstacles in front of you are indistinct making it pretty certain your going to trip on them?

Everything is something from a certain point of view. That’s the trouble isn’t it? We don’t all have the same point of view, seeing that something from over there instead of over here really can make all the difference. Can’t it?


Remembered Unexpectedly

The man with the cleverest mind I’ve ever known came with all the stereotypical quirks you might expect.
Socially inept, emotionally immature and physically underdeveloped.
He was in a placement in a factory where I did maintenance, doing engineering calclations with his face in his hands quicker than the engineering mangager could do it on his calculator.
They struggled with him, one or two of the guys there got him to open up a bit, but mostly he’d talk to them while stooped, looking the other way. And quietly.The manager asked if he could spend some time with us doing some of the practical side, thinking it would do him good.
He stayed with us for weeks. From a man who walked into scaffold, spilt his tea on his legs, fell down a man hole and painted his head with bitumen paint accidentally, we eventually got a shaven headed, sharp, conversational and personable workmate.

We didn’t rib him all the time, didn’t patronise him either. A bit of encouragement and some stick too and he found his place with a bunch of workies, confident and part of the squad.
When he went back to the factory placement we missed him.

Months later we saw him in the street when heading to Greggs, this was a while after his placement had ended. Unkempt, stooped, and nervous looking again. We said hello, we got a glance up and indestiguishable muttering and he carried on.

We were really sad. You can teach people, but if it doesn’t come naturally, without the contact it’s lost.

Mixed emotions.

I was parked on Bath Street last week having my lunch in the motor, idley flicking through the utterly horrific Cotswolds catalogue that had arrived in the post. Lunch incedentaly was a fine soup/sandwich/brownie/cuppa combo from that new place that’s opened up where O’Briens was on Sauchiehall St. Very nice.

Anyway, there were two parked cars in view. One was in front of me, a wee people carried of recent vintage, the other to my left. I watched this second arrive, a black S-Class Merc of recent purchase. The occupant rolled himself out into the street, adjusted his fine finely tailer suit, smoothed the back down, adjusted the collar beneeth his fat red overindulged face and rotated his gold watch around his wrist (must’ve been catching a hair) before setting off.

I had paid my parking ticket and was in a space, both of the other cars were on a single yellow line and were displaying disabled badges.

I was into the brownie by the time a man approached the people carrier in front of me. I was vaguelly distracted by his movements as he was peering into it’s driver-side window. My first though was “This dick is going to tan the window and make of with something from within”.

But now watching more closely I could see that he had no hands. He had the cable actuated split hooks attached to instead. He started to dance about on one foot and as I watched he pulled one foot out of his slip-on shoe. Between his toes he held a car key. He unlocked the door and opened it, then put the key in the ignition. All while standing on his other foot. He put his foot back in his shoe and got in. Shortly after he drove away.

I was stunned, psyched. I had to phone people to tell them. This was a display of the finest of qualities that people have. Adversity is no boundary, no definition unless you chose.

If we could all display these qualities, draw on the inherent strength that humans possess, apply it with intelligence then surely nothing could be beyond us.

But of course the telly is good, so we’ll do it tomorrow.