Archive for December, 2011

2011 goals redux

Posted in Climbing, ramblings with tags , , , on December 31, 2011 by bridbeast

Back in January this year I wrote out a list of goals for the year. Now it’s the last day of 2011, time to see how I did:

I’d like to fulfil the long-standing goal of climbing F7a again, and onsighting F6c.

Ticked the F7a in Catalunya in November after coming very close around Easter time. Flashed a couple of F6cs but not quite an onsight. I think that’s 3/4 of a tick.

More unlikely is climbing F7a+.

Yes, that was unlikely. Fail.

Trad climbing – I’d like to get up to E2 and possibly E3. Something steep and safe at Pembroke or Gogarth. Pleasure Dome is on the list, maybe also Ocean Boulevard or Soul Survivor at Swanage. Some steep and savage grit cracks, with the ultimate aim of doing Sentinel Crack at Chatsworth – ouch!

A bit ambitious this one, given that before this year my trad climbing was seriously out of shape. I hadn’t taken a fall onto my own gear or climbed an extreme in years. I was reasonably on it this year, with my best lead being Brown’s Crack at Ramshaw. E1 in the guide but E2 on UKC, it is most definitely steep and savage. I didn’t do Sentinel Crack but this was a step in the right direction. Tick.

Unfortunately my dreams of E3 at Swanage or Pembroke didn’t materialise. I think that was a bit too much. Fail, but rematch for 2012!

Ramshaw climbing

My idea of fun.

Places to visit: Cornwall, Verdon, North Wales. Spend much more time at Swanage and Portland to get fit.

Didn’t go to Cornwall or  North Wales as my plans of long weekends away were scuppered by getting a new job. I did go to the Verdon even if it was too rainy to get anything properly done. Went to Swanage and Portland a bit, but perhaps not as much as I’d envisioned. Still, mostly a tick.

Actually write a short story. Try to write a radio play.

Big fat fail on both these aims.

Get at least one article published in the national media.

Got a ghost-written piece into the Huffington Post. Half a tick I think.

Looking back on it, 2011 was a pretty good year. I did loads of climbing, chopped and changed jobs (hopefully for the best), got tattooed and had a great visit to Sri Lanka. I’m unhappy that I failed in any of my writing aims but I’m hoping for a better year in 2012 on that front. I’m also keen to realise some big, lifetime climbing goals in 2012. Bring it on!

 

Yosemite Valley. El Cap.

The mighty El Capitan. ©ChrisJD

Big wall climbing on the Capitan. ©Enty

Masters of the universe

Posted in culture, current affairs, ramblings on December 4, 2011 by bridbeast

I had a deeply depressing conversation last night. My cousin started a course at the London School of Economics this year and reports back that all of his contemporaries want to become investment bankers. Even his friend, a physics undergraduate at another London university, has in the space of months changed her ambitions from academia to finance.

I suppose part of it is youthful skittishness and enthusiasm. Bless them, they’re barely a few months away from school and A-levels and all of a sudden they think they’re ready for Goldman Sachs. Partly it’s the sense of entitlement that comes from attending fee paying schools and arriving at an elite university.

But it still troubles me.

They’re smart kids who’ve lived through the biggest financial disaster for 80 years, the result of a credit bubble whose formation was mainly due to the actions of the financial sector and the politicians who pandered to it. All they have to do is read a newspaper for a week and they’d discover that Britain really doesn’t need too many more bankers. Instead we need innovation and science. We need to nurture our creative companies, whether they’re creating green technology or world-beating TV formats. We need the smartest kids to teach our most disadvantaged to raise up the dismal standards of education and productivity.

But no. Already the talk is of internships, of preferring research to trading, of how they’ll only do it for a few years before getting out. As D said of his friend: “She wants to do research in physics, but she doesn’t want to be poor.”

Well no one is claiming you’ll make big bucks as an academic, in fact given the effort to get there it’s shoddy. I found this in a few minutes this morning, and whilst the upper thirties is hardly a great salary for someone with seven or eight years of higher education plus a bunch of experience, it’s not poor.

Poor is the ladies who serve in the university canteen, or the cleaners who vacuum the office blocks of Canary Wharf in the dead of night. Poor is the white van man pulling £250 a week and trying to raise a family on it. Poor is the dole and JD sports and spliffs at lunchtime, the waste of smart kids who can’t get a foot in the door and go quietly mad with frustration, poor is two jumpers from November to April and reusing tea bags.

What poor isn’t, is an intellectually demanding job with a good salary that unfortunately happens to be ten times less than that offered by a bank.

Perhaps I’m expecting too much in the way of imagination from what is, essentially, a school for technocrats. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from kids, barely a few months away from school and A-levels, to resist these warped temptations, or to understand that right now something different is required of them if our society is to recover from this disaster.