An aside

There haven’t been any posts in the last few months because there hasn’t been any climbing in the last few months. Well, not on rock anyway. But considering today was my Grandad’s funeral, after two weeks of hectic planning and organisation, I thought I would enter an aside.

In truth, this should be more of a diary entry than a blog post, but alas, due to the nature of modern telecommunications compared to the archaic of paper and pen, I find myself typing rather than writing, on a mobile phone. And I thought you may find it interesting: a quick insight into the search for serenity in an urban enclosure.

The truth is, were I where I now call home, I’d be sat in the slate quaries above llanberis, my search for peace simpler than a search for most electrical items. Sadly, now that search has taken me on a more unusual journey, along my childhood commute, a simple desire to find peace and quiet amongst Birmingham’s rush hour becoming almost impossible.

I began by deciding, on arriving at my parents house following the wake, that I wanted to go for a walk. At that point I didn’t know where I was going, or indeed what I wanted, although the latter quickly established itself in my mind once I noticed myself telling passing cars to fuck off. Silence, oddly, was what I craved, whilst still being able to enjoy the setting sun and the clear blue skies, but without the luxury of being able to drive from the city limits, due to three pints of Boddingtons…

I walked toward the cemetery, thinking thatt may bring solitude as it did on the very rare occasions when I was a child. A small boy, barely into his teens, if at all, walked towards me and he suddenly reminded me of myself some 15 years ago. I asked him which school he went to, to find as expected it was the same as me, and finding nothing else to say, simply replied, “good lad” and continued on my way.

The cemetery was locked, although by this point I’d come to decide this extremely short walk would not be anywhere near long enough, and remembered another park (unknown except for those who know it) further down the road. It was my old walk home: a babbling brook, lush flat green fields, something I would struggle to write were I to want to. While my memories and imagination rendered this place perfect, the reality was far from so, with the constant drone of monday evening commuters still ringing in my ears. Unabated, I continued; convinced the serenity I seeked would present itself eventually.

Every insignificant detail seemed to hold some, well, significance: two Renault cars reminded me of travelling round France, a Ford reminded me of my own, and even a police car made me ponder the years I was hounded by the authorities, suspected of wrong doing while being completely law abiding.

I crossed the Bristol Road, with the sound of my father resonating in my mind, dis tolling the notion of crossing such a busy thoroughfare. Circumstances have subsequently changed and I now have no qualms with running in front of high-speed traffic, but the memories remained untouched.

I walked past Imperial House (always ironic when young as it seemed neither imperial, nor a house) and Bournville Police Station, whose name I suddenly discovered I had mis-spelled for years. A man caught my glance, and I smiled and nodded. He waved in return, making me feel altogether better in a truly indescribable way. Something so small and subtle can often make the difference.

My old school came into view, and I quickly flirted with the notion of going in before dismissing it equally quickly: even if it were open, I would know no-one there after all this time, and would be looked upon as unusual to say the least. And the duck pond opposite appealed, although still I was aware that the peace I was searching wasn’t there.

A gate to a tiny path on the left was locked: salvation at last was so close, yet so far, with a “Private Property” sign blocking my way. Although trespassing was tempting, it seemed altogether a touch of an over-exaggeration to a mild emotion point in my life. Then, over a fence, I spotted a football rarely but occasionally frequented by the children of my school. I found a small gap in the fence, snuck through and walked across the pitch.

In truth, I was expecting to be approached and moved on by now, having begun this post shortly after my arrival, but no-one has appeared, to which I am quite grateful. The complete non-existence of the rest of the world has not been achieved, but the cars and sirens are far enough away to be small enough and quiet enough to acquiesce to my desires.

It is slightly odd how this place, my home for so long, the scene for my youth, seems so alien now, especially as for so long, I was happy here. Yet, as I remember my Granddad, it seems fitting to return. My thoughts of him much like of my school-boy years (in many respects): fond memories. May I remember them as such forever more.

In spite of such striking beauty, it is still impossible to escape the intrinsic signs of the city
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