Archive for the Uncategorized Category

White man’s burden

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19, 2012 by bridbeast

After the horrific killing of 16 Afghans by an American soldier, I was reading this article on the Russians in Afghanistan. One quote from a Soviet veteran stood out:

“The thirst for blood … is a terrible desire. It is so strong that you cannot resist it. I saw for myself how the battalion opened a hail of fire on a group that was descending towards our column. And they were our soldiers, a detachment from the reconnaissance company who had been guarding us on the flank. They were only 200 metres away and we were 90 per cent sure they were our people. And nevertheless – the thirst for blood, the desire to kill at all costs. Dozens of times I saw with my own eyes how the new recruits would shout and cry with joy after killing their first Afghan, pointing in the direction of the dead man, clapping one another on the back, and firing off a whole magazine into the corpse ‘just to make sure’ … Not everyone can master this feeling, this instinct, and stifle the monster in his soul.”

I was also thinking about the depressing pattern of these events: My Lai, Amritsar, the French in North and West Africa, and on. In his essay “Shooting an Elephant”, Orwell wrote:

“With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism…”

And he was a liberal.

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Dance music

Posted in culture, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 17, 2011 by bridbeast

Having a bit of a dance music renaisance at the moment, and have discovered Sound Cloud. It’s like having a massive box of DJ tapes to dip into every so often, brilliant! (That last sentence probably reveals my age, or at least the era when I dicovered electronic music.)

Here’s what I’m listening to today:

http://soundcloud.com/nickchan24/progressive-house-mix-march-2010-1

Ignore the odd warblin tarts track and get down with the euphoric house sounds. There’s a really great mix from about 35 to 43 mins. Enjoy!

Reminder/humiliation

Posted in Climbing, ramblings, Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 30, 2011 by bridbeast

In the depths of winter I wrote on this blog a little list of goals for the year – “to check up on later this year and see how I’m progressing.” Well, later is now and with six months of the year down it’s time to check on my progress.

This is going to hurt.

First, sports climbing. Onsighting 6c and redpointing 7a. Nearly there – I flashed a 6c in Portland very early on in the year, came to within an ace of redpointing a 7a at Swanage just before Easter. Our trip to France was supposed to give a final boost to my sports climbing and see my hit the magic mark, but that didn’t happen thanks to the weather. I missed quite a bit of training and a couple of trips away due to getting tattooed and injuring my shoulder, and once the summer arrived I’ve been trying to concentrate on trad climbing. So nearly, but not quite. Hopefully that’ll be rectified in the autumn with some south coast sports trips.

Trad climbing. I’ve been trying hard on this one in the last few weeks, with trips to Pembroke, the Peak and Swanage. It’s been tough. I’ve been wracked with nerves and though the climbing has felt easy, the overall leading of harder routes felt a bit beyond me at first. But it’s slowly coming back, I threw myself on an E1 last weekend and though I didn’t get up it, I wasn’t too far off. More confidence and speed with my gear placements is what I need. So with a bit of luck, some good weather, and the right route, I still hope to get up an E2 this year. Not so sure about an E3.

I’ve visited the Verdon, and spent a bit more time at Swanage and Portland, tho the Bill still has plenty of crags I’ve yet to even visit. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll make it to Cornwall or N Wales this year. I had plenty of time off with my old job and was planning to take a bunch of long weekends to get far away from London, but my new position has fewer holiday days and most of them will be used up in our trip to Sri Lanka later in the summer.

Despite not actually ticking any of my main climbing goals, I feel I’m getting there which is great. Unfortunately climbing a lot is really, really detrimental to writing. It takes up a lot of time and energy. So my ambition of writing a play or short story remains very much unfulfilled, even unworked upon. Getting a newspaper article published hasn’t happened yet either, though I hope with work to get a few ghosted op-eds out there in the next few months, which is at least half a tick.

However I’ve been writing much more on here which is proving to be a good way of working on a few ideas and keeping my hand in.

Two big projects I’ve achieved this year didn’t even rate in my list, but I’m very happy about achieving them. I got a new job, which is really exciting, promises some interesting travel and is a whole lot more stimulating than my previous one. Result! And I’ve gotten tattooed, a very long-standing desire which I’ve fulfilled big style. I’m very pleased about getting that done, even if the result was to make me too skint and knackered to manage all the other things.

I’ll check in with this list again at the end of December.

Pembroke

Posted in Climbing, Uncategorized with tags , on June 18, 2011 by bridbeast

Last weekend I went to Pembroke for the first time in 11 years. I’m not sure why the huge gap – I think I’d forgotten just how wonderful it is. Where else are there so many superb crags within such a short distance? And what’s more, all the walking between them is flat.

Duncan, my partner for the weekend, claimed a well travelled climber of his acquaintence reckoned Pembroke to be one of Europe’s four world-class cragging destinations (the others being Font, the Verdon and the Elbstandstein, discuss ad infinitum over a brew on a rainy day). When I’d been before I hadn’t done a great deal of limestone climbing and didn’t appreciate how good the rock is down there.

Pembroke climbing UK

Good weather, immaculate rock - someone strikes it lucky.

It was my first time trad climbing since last autumn and I was pretty rusty. Having spent most of the year so far sports climbing the routes themselves felt fine, but the gap between gymnastic exercise and doing the lead felt pretty big.

I started off on a VS, that was fine, then dodging the showers we went to do an HVS near Stenis Head, climbing until late in the evening.

On Saturday the weather was perfect, sunny but a little chilly and windy, not too hot at all. Rather ambitiously, we did three routes on three separate crags. On Bosherston Head we abbed into the wrong bit, but found an easy way out. Heading to Rusty Walls Duncan had his sights set on Lucky Strike, but there was a team on it so we did a classic E1 crack called Solidarity. Again, seconding it, the climbing felt straightforward but the lead itself a little beyond me. As ever, mileage is the key!

For a finale we went to Castle Head to do a HVS called Rizla. This was my lead, and it knocked me right back. I got about 30 ft up the black, soapy, slopey rock with a few bits of gear but couldn’t get any more in – the usual friendly Pembroke cracks had disappeared! I tried to get a small wire in a crozzly horizontal crack but it pulled out, and I was unwilling to press ahead to where I thought I could get some more in. I retreated, and felt bad about myself. Duncan took the lead, wangled some gear in, slowly udged up, then at about 60ft announced he was retreating, thinking it a rather bold E1. We were sandbagged! (And I felt better.)

We awoke to Biblical rain on Sunday.

 

brew climbing road trip

Car park cafe

 

Pembroke clouds

"What were the skies like when you were young?"

 

Pembroke coastline climbing

Pembroke coastline from Castle Head.

 

Sea pembroke

Symbol of the unconscious

Most pointless climbing trip ever.

Posted in Climbing, Uncategorized with tags on May 30, 2011 by bridbeast

In retrospect, it looks a bit ambitious. A very busy day on Saturday, followed by an extremely early Sunday morning to pick the rellies up from Heathrow, then home, quick rest and up to the Peak for a day and a half’s climbing, despite an iffy weather forecast. Two friends had already backed out. But I was desperate to get some trad climbing done and start the process of getting my head in gear.

Picking Dad and Punchi up was fine, after getting them home I had a sleep and eventually left about 12.30. Traffic was terrible, I was dead tired, and by the time I got to the Peak I was shot. Despite the good weather I decided to go to Outside for tea and cake, promptly reversed my car into a gate and the locking mechanism went straight into my rear light unit. I couldn’t get hold of my friends so went to the crag on my own but fell asleep in the car, and managed to miss the only decent weather I was to see all weekend.

Broken! If only I could blame someone else.

I eventually met up with my mates at the campsite near Hope, had tea and a nice chat before crashing out. Woke to rain. Snoozed. Woke up to rain, again. Clouds brushed the slopes of Win Hill. The forecast was for more of the same, so it was back to Outside for the shopping I’d resisted the day then the long drive back to London.

What an expensive, tiring and totally pointless way to spend my Bank Holiday.

What to give the tropical island dweller who has everything (culinarily speaking).

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 28, 2011 by bridbeast

Ahhh, Sri Lanka, that verdant isle in the Indian Ocean. Spit some seeds on the ground, they say, and soon a plant will grow. It’s home to jackfruit, the world’s largest fruit, and durian, one of the smelliest. I’ve eaten Sri Lankan vegetables with no name in English, prawns bigger than the palm of your hand, tiny dried fish in bitter curries, aromatic steaming tea, raw cinnamon straight from the tree, water drawn from the well that’s so pure you could bottle it.

So what do Sri Lankans really, really lust after?

Campbell’s cup-a-soup. Nesquick. Dairy Milk chocolate. Dairy Lee cheese. Mayonaise. Sandwhich spreads. BBQ sauce. Crackers. Tinned fruit. Club biscuits.

The best of the west.

There was stuff on the back seat, too.

If it’s processed, comes in a multi-coloured plastic packet or is made by a giant corporation in a factory, they want it. (The grass is always greener, right?) So in preparation for this year’s trip to Sri Lanka we’ve been buying trolley loads of “delicacies” for the rellies and getting it shipped over to the tropics.

Showing no respect for Archie's porridge.

Pro at work.

Goodies!

Next stop - Kohuwela!

Assuming there are no Somali pirates with a taste for chocolate digestives, after 21 days on the high seas our package will arrive in Colombo ready to be dispersed around the family.

Those biccies could easily break! Not to mention the crackers.

Joining the packages for Colombo, Nugegoda, Beruwala and elsewhere.

Enjoy, folks!

Lunching out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 25, 2011 by bridbeast

Here is a very good article on procrastination from the New Yorker.

Here is a bag containing (I think) some cheese, which I packed for lunch in France. It’s been sat on the chair since I returned, about three weeks ago.

My bag of cheese. No idea how smelly it is.

“Philosophers are interested in procrastination for another reason. It’s a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia—doing something against one’s own better judgment. Piers Steel defines procrastination as willingly deferring something even though you expect the delay to make you worse off.”

Edit: apparently it had some grapes in it too.