Growing up “social”: Misdemeanors in a small world

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I am so glad that I grew up before computer screens lit up the faces of young people. Needing a scalpel to be removed from a gameboy was not an available affliction to folk of my age and I shudder to think what my life would have been like. Can you imagine every mood of your adolescent years being the focus of attention on Facebook? I am particularly glad that peers could not point a phone at my misdemeanors and immediately record them to you tube.

Good fortune has provided me with a number of vibrant and youthful “friends” on Facebook and seeing their antics broadcast on the web causes me to smile and also ponder how things might have been different. I am certainly glad of having few witnesses to a number of my “social experiments” and explorations into finding out what it is to be human and truly alive.

At college I was also lucky in that I had great friends who through adventure sports knew what it was to be truly focused; they had glints in their eyes borne from pushing boundaries. While some might see this needle sharp concentration as selfish and disruptive it was the essence of young people who were on a journey of finding themselves. Many went on to become stalwarts of the community and their skills were developed through “play”. The thing is that most of this behavior was best unheard of and even better unseen.

So here is a quick story that I am willing to share. As a student I lived by a body of water called the Menai Straits and from our dorm rooms we could see the island of Anglesey. Spanning this briny channel is an incredibly beautiful bridge suspended from chains more than a hundred feet above the water. Built by Thomas Telford and completed in 1826 it is an incredible example of aesthetics and how there is an extreme elegance in sound engineering.

We often used to cross over to the town of Menai Bridge which had a good collection of pubs and after dark it was not unheard of for us to return over the top of the chains. The view from the eerie at the apex on the towers is amazing and the feeling of freedom provided by the airy journey is (was) quite sublime.

One evening we had gone out in fancy dress and elected to return by the “high road”.

Unfortunately, a passer by had called the police and while most of us scattered, one brave young man chose to stand on top of a building on the mainland that housed one end of the chain. The policeman decided to try and talk our superhero down, I need to also tell you he was dressed in tight red and blue with a flowing red cape and a large red “S” highlighted by a yellow background.

“Come down son.”


“OK, what’s your name?”


“Don’t get smart with me sonny. What’s your real name?”

Clark Kent. I come from Krypton, and I am going back there now.” With that he leaped off the back and ran down to the beach never to be caught. Meanwhile his audience in the bushes sniggered.

So yes there are some scenes from my past I would love to see on youtube and this is one of them. Your homework today is to think of things you want people to see that you do and also to happily reminisce on memories you know were kept from the public eye.

Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent
Image via Wikipedia
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Impossible is a way of thinking:

I wonder how many times I have been stopped in my tracks by limited thinking. It becomes more apparent when I think of when I have overcome it and seen the result. A good example of what can be achieved was provided by Cai this Christmas. When asked what he wanted from Santa the response was instant, “I want a flying broom”. Sometimes, I will immediately shut him down especially when I do not believe that what he wants is possible. Thankfully, I did not do it this time. The question is, how does someone find a flying broom for a six year old?

Kim put out a call for help on Facebook, all she got was facetious responses – fancy that! I struggled to think of something and the muse was elusive. The germ of an idea came from Cai’s cousin William who provided a solution that was embraced and developed. As is often the case this solution came form the least expected source; being open to suggestion was key, as was treating this as a team activity. Before we knew it the materials had been collected and put together – I will confess we were impressed. On Christmas day Cai woke up excited, my highlight of the day though was when he saw one particular package. Tearing it open a huge smile lit his face; he had a flying broom.

Here is Santa’s note that accompanied it as a reminder that there is still magic in the world.

A Christmas Gift:

The broom of Maximillian Remus-Crown,
To earth by a hex was brought down.
Into the hands of Wizard Cai it finds its way,
On this auspicious, sunny Christmas day.

To raise it back into the sky,
Seven years of Cai’s life must go by;
During this time he must find the spell,
Then as transport it will serve him well.

Bon chance, good luck, lwcus dda.
I will be watching you carefully from afar.
I look forward to meeting you in the air,
Until then I hope that well you fare.

From a friendly wizard who cannot yet be named

How do you make the impossible possible?


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Life Shapers

A friend’s Facebook recently sparked off a train of thought. Stu likes to post pictures, his is a happy Facebook, one where he shares images of a smiling family playing outdoors and also his recent climbing exploits. Of late there have been photographs of classic North Wales climbing, the routes I lived and breathed in my teens. Of note to me a climb called First Slip an E1 (climbing parlance describing difficulty) at Tremadog and a series of routes on Dinas Cromlech including Cenotaph Corner E1. It was the first time Stu had climbed the Corner in 17 years and it reminded me of a childhood promise. I was going to lead it on or before my 16th birthday or come back when I was 65. In the end I stood below it a couple of days before my birthday and psyched out; in all fairness it is an austere place. However, just days before I climbed a route on it’s right wall, Cemetery Gates which now receives the same grade and on my birthday I climbed First Slip. Many more routes of that grade were climbed that summer and I kept my word by not coming back to climb the Corner leaving it as a pensioner’s present to himself.

The thing is two years ago I noticed something spooky from that period of my life. I was trying to figure out why I might have spent extended periods of time in the countries and States that I have been fortunate enough to call home; Australia, Nepal, Colorado and Alaska are a strange cocktail after all. It suddenly occurred to me that there had been a series of small posters on my wall at school and I had spent a lot of time looking at them. Each of these pictures had depicted a climb in the countries I have mentioned. Now I do not believe that I have done any of the climbs (although routes close to a few of them now provide memories & stories), I am though blown away that mental images from my teens can so shape my life.

Here is the thing, over the last 5 years I have let my fitness slip and I am not really on track to accomplish my promise. It is time to do something about it and I am now wondering if they give discounts for airfares booked 21 years in advance.

What strong images have shaped your life?

And here is one for me to shape my 60’s.

Taken from


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