Tuesday, 30 December 2008


The Christmas period has been nice. Lots of catching up with familiar faces from the near and distant past, destruction of mince pies and port and the odd bit of physical activity resulting in (largely) upward inertia.

I've been spending many hours each day trying to re-learn the art of architectural conceptual drawing and have developed something of a love for watercolours. Steven Holl is something of an inspiration to me and as such, I've been trying to emulate some of his conceptual works in attempting to gain some form of mastery over the artform. If you have spent any time whatsoever with watercolours, you'll have come to learn that they require a lot of patience, practice and experimentation. Luckily, I'm a fan of all three and am happy with some of the things I've developed. I figure that as I fall straight back into university via the vertical school studio project, I best possess some form of 'edge' if I'm to be amongst the top three again this year. I'm not actually sure that every single person in the school is bothered about the outcome of their entry, but I most certainly am. Firstly because of it's competitive nature (which the profession is centered around) and secondly because after the 5 days elapse, there is a friday night party in the studio. It's an amazing space for a party and hopefully this years installment should be decent.

I titled this post public/private; I'm not sure that many people at all read this blog but for those that do, I'm quite sure it is hugely sedate in comparison to a blog such as Keith's. After all, Keith is operating in the upper echelons and actually speaks about climbing. I seem to touch upon climbing in the most briefest of manners and probably get way too enthusiastic about small gains than is healthy. With this in mind, I'm going to forge a seperate blog for architecture/drivel and try to keep this one for climbing-related matters. The blog title also pertains somewhat to a paranoia I seem to be developing. Of course, very few people know of the existence of this page and I ultimately say nothing of consequence. Perhaps it is a fear of insanity, I don't know. I'm rambling. I'll shut up. I'm losing my mind!

Time to stop festive eating and crush! Seasons bests humans. x

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Oh what a night...

After a general lack of interest in going to see Luciano at Circus last night, at the last minute a fellow willing homme and I ventured forth.

Stupidly, I hadn't bought any tickets in advance and hence we had to arrive at the Barfly for silly o'clock. Being my favourite DJ and rarely in town, I wasn't going to miss this. At 8pm there was nobody at the venue door so after a brief beer in FACT, we returned at 9.15 to queue. We were about 40th in the line as others started to gather behind us. Some stupid dick from the venue decided to tell the line (which was significant and swelling at this time) that there were only 50 tickets available on the door. Cue endless nobs trying to queue jump and rumour mill to work overtime about ticket prices going up to £60.00 in an effort to get people to leave the line.

Eventually, some of the door staff loosely erected a gate to queue within which seemed temporarily to restore some form of order. Usefully, one of the door staff said to the people about two rows back from my man and I that they wouldn't get in. Needless to say, they stayed in their masses in some hope of getting a ticket. Bang on 10pm as the doors opened, the queue had become akin to the Hillsborough disaster and I could barely breathe let alone move my arms. To cut a long story short, not long after we started to queue, I met a guy I had once hung out with who was sleeping on the clifftop at Porth Ysgo two summers ago. We had a surreal conversation and met a couple who seemed quite friendly.

As Paul and I got to the door with 1000 tonnes of force behind us, the bouncer announced that there were only two more tickets left. I attempted to run in but he saw me and I expected a castration for said behaviour. In the end, the girl from the friendly couple had got one person ahead of us as Paul tried to help prevent her from having her ribs crushed on the gate. Both her and I pleaded for each other and our respective peers to be the candidates for the tickets but ultimately (and I suspect entirely on account of her looks), the bouncer let her and her man have the last two tickets. I was irate to say the least as I watched the bouncers let a swarm of tanned shitface girls in from the flanks without having to queue. I suspect they issue sexual favours to them or are the devil spawn of their other bouncer counterparts. "That's it lad, no more tickets". We waited for another 10 minutes on the offchance that we could somehow get in but this was not to be.

Why did I write so much about that? I don't know. I think I just needed to express something about the ephemerality and insincerity of clubbing queue culture where everybody is a hero and villain in equal measure. Making walls and ensuring that your micro culture triumph when in actual fact you need to be the black sheep and keep your eyes down like the slight-of-frame young man in front of me did. He knew he would be the first brick in the wall to crumble if he didn't stick by his own game plan. And to that wiley young skeptic, I salute you.

After wiping tears, we ended up taking plan B to Mumu (Liverpool's premier techno night) with an intimate and likeable crowd. It's our usual night of choice and run by an awesome small team. Trevor (the organiser) had enlisted Geddes, Reboot and Gregor Tresher for the boxing day marathon and a good time was had by all. There's a million short stories there too but I won't furnish you with the irksome details other than to say that you need a slice of Gregor Tresher in your life!

Here, have a set. I haven't yet listened to it, but anticipate great things.

Hit me. Please.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Rouhling rules

The weekend past was a pleasant one. Saturday I helped T Mills senior rip the existing kitchen out and then headed over to the studio to help Dan with the rather laborious task of rendering brickwork on his model. It felt good being back in the studio but I was slightly alarmed by the volume of students sat in there on a saturday evening. I know 98% of them play the last-minute game but even some conscientious faces were in there. I think the reality is that many of them are just slow to get things moving and the others have been indulging in a student loan sized party. It made me realise that I'm very keen to avoid doing masses of weekend work upon my return in any case.

After a pleasant evening spent at D & C's, I woke up feeling fresher than ever. I've been enduring a period of insomnia recently and last night hopefully signified the end of that spell as I woke feeling a new man. After hearing that Mick might be over this way this week and keen for me to get involved, I thought I'd leave the fingerboard alone and stay fresh. Alas, the allure of some specific exercises I've been wanting to commit to proved too great and I dangled a few well-spent hours away. It was particularly pleasing to see that all of the mono/shallow pocket work I've been doing recently is starting to come together; I managed to one arm deadhang the moon board pocket with the front two fingers utilising some very minor assistance from a sling tied over the pullup bar to the rear of the board. I made sure to concentrate on driving as much force through these fingers as possible and was pleased to feel that only half a pad of the index finger snagging the doubled-up sling was all that was required.

I made a point of spending time locking off on the sloper at varying angles and concentrating on the negative phase of the motion. Unusually, all I could think of whilst undergoing the exercises today was the work that Fred Rouhling put into training for his many impressive routes; specifically, the first joint exercise he did on micro campus rungs to "increase his pain tolerance". If that ain't micro-beta, I don't know what is!

I had a nice moment of surprise on the board last week when I managed to deeply lock a shallow mono pocket to poor flatty at close to full extension with feet on small screw ons. I also managed the second ascent (!!!) of a wall benchmark undercut pull on. With Mr D being the only other ascentionist (please don't take this seriously), I'm dining in good company! For me, training is all about cherishing these moments as it is a reflection of progress and an indication of things to come.

Speaking of micro-beta, I thought back the other day to when Mick first used to bandy the term about. Crouch and I would laugh, but I've ultimately realised the importance of this concept in everyday climbing situations. How many times have you located a 0.5mm spike or divot with your thumb deep into the siege of a project? I'm willing to wager that the answer is many! Nothing quite beats the feeling of discovering such a thing in such trying moments.

Oh and here is a video of the man himself. I can't wait to get to Charente and my current training I think reflects that.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Don't forget to leave home

I'm climbing better than ever before at the moment. I have spent recent months working uber hard on increasing my core tension and it has been the exacting requirement in the hunt for better body positioning. Unfortunately I haven't managed to get outside in a long time but figure time spent on the board will ultimately pay off.

I'd like to have the mental resolve to write an opinion on the red tape nature of almost every interaction I have with public and private sector organisations of late, but ultimately the process has consumed me. It seems nigh on impossible to make a phonecall which doesn't involve an array of "security checks" and referrals to other departments. A grinding, tiring process!

Enough of that world against me shit! Last night, after a day of meticulous calculations, some procrastination and a very long and unforgettable phonecall with Mr Donnelly, I made the decision; I'm returning to architecture in January. It is a decision which both liberates and terrifies me. The endless 'what ifs..' are over and I must accept that the future is very much uncertain and a few more years of heavy paperwork will continue, but ultimately, I will be in a better position.

I've really met too many arts and humanities graduates working in jobs that they shouldn't be in to indicate to me that this is the right decision. My results were good and I really did enjoy the course immensely.

Roll on '09. I'm really very ready for the reset switch to be pushed!!

EDIT: Need I really say the word really anymore in this post?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Don't forget to go home.

Have to be a quick one today as am nipping out in a moment.

Friday past was the second installment of the 161 party. After hearing that there was to be some sort of techno ban, I threw my toys out of the pram upon hearing that dubstep would be played all night long. Alas this was not to be the case and to the contrary, techno boomed through the annals until I hit 'stop' on the decks circa 9am. Of course, the mixer was taken upstairs to the afterparty room and the party continued. A proper house party you might say.

Climbing wise; I attacked the 45 with a vengeance yesterday. I've managed to devise some isolation exercises involving very wide open feet positions on slopey screwons and very wide hand positions on wack slopers. The idea being that donning the weightbelt and making one big move to a hold near the top of the board will serve to rigidify my core. I've been focusing hard on core strength of late and am starting to realise decent gains. A couple of variations on the guru's hand-foot matches went down except utilising pinches and screwons where possible. I worked as hard as I could in the session and feel beautifully sore right now. It's worth noting to myself that the session was fuelled by Catz & Dogz latest album and the Feiern soundtrack (just in case this is some sort of magical psyche bullet).

As I've said before (as have many before me), the importance of learning from others in the upper strata is paramount to any increase in personal performance. I remember the tenet of something Keith mentioned quite some time back that in the development of personal performance, everything centers around the individual's use of time. Whilst this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, it is an important one and one that I have never forgotten since hearing it. It is particularly relevant to me right now given my situation and it reminds me that I love training, apply myself 100% to it, and will never shun it. Nothing beats the feeling of training in solitude knowing that the mental fortitude you possess will ultimately be the driving force behind one's greatest acheivements and that all the muscular gains were just a by product of that.

I have simple needs and desires that can be inscribed quite easily on a sheet of A6 paper and I think it's high time to start chasing some of these up.

Last thing of note is that we have a premier training facility in Liverpool now. I took a walk-through video of the space last week and will put it up in the near future.