Monday, February 11, 2008

Teachers


Jimmy Puttrell
Claude Franklin
Ivar Berg
Chuck Pratt
Warren Harding
Jim Birkett
Jammin Whillans
Wolfgang Gullich
Arthur Dolphin
Aleister Crowley
Pete Crew
Walter B
Pete Kirton
Sir Pat
Chris Bonners
Tom Patey
Martin Boysen's in the house, yeah
Joe Brown in the house
Hot Henry in the house
John Allen is in the house
Hank Pasquill
Tom Proctor
Pete Livesey
Marc le Menestrel
Calvin Torrans
Eddie Cooper
Crispin Waddy
Moose Thomas
Bob Smith
John Redhead
Ray Kay
Lucy Creamer
Ron Fawcett in the house
Nick Dixon's in the house
Johnny Dawes's in he house
Jerry Moffatt in the house, yeah
Malcolm Smith
Steve MaClure
Mark Sharratt
Sandrine Levet
Chris Sharma
Fat Boy in the house
Pete Robins in the house
Ben Bransby's in the house, yeah

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mach the knife II


A story in more than two parts – part 2
(part 1 below)


I cannot for the life of me remember how, but The Dawes was round at my house one unemployed midweek. Not that this was particularly unusual. As a long-time non-worker, you are in a very exclusive club. And your very lifestyle – indoors, mooching – is a de facto carte blanche to other full-timers to call round and sit for long inoffensive hours, as you would while away your time together.

Pete Whalley would bring his dog Jibber round, and we would keep track of how well its scars were healing. Laughing Boy from two doors up would sit in the window like a gangster hoping to catch his first bullet. He would talk about his drug deals and refer to his ‘heater’ and follow passing cars with exaggerated, slit-eyed interest, like a pussy cat who thought she heard the word ‘biscuits’. Simon, from the flat below, who actually had a job. He sold educational books to universities, but by his own admission, he ‘had the whole gig stitched up tighter than a dolphin’s fanny’. As such seemed to have more free time than any of us, which he seemed to enjoy wasting by sitting on my couch with an empty tea cup, asking me such questions as ‘Been climbing up anything lately Big Man?’ over and over again.

Days, be they preceded with Tues, Wednes, Thurs, Satur or Sun, all bore the same blessed-out hallmark – nothing much, although this would be punctuated every now and then with some climbing. Hence, The Dawes drinking a cup of tea in the Gangster’s spot. As I say, this was not particularly unusual. I had spent a good amount of quality time with him over the years, but due to the ‘Mitchell’s effect’, I was still excited and on my best behaviour, at my scintillating best.

‘So, were there any dogs around that day, Johnny?’

My God, I heard my inner voice say. I wonder if he has to spend his entire life surrounded by idiots like me?

We were to go climbing. Stanage. It was a beautiful day. We got into his car, which at that point was a Mini, and roared off.

He was excited, and jabbered a lot.

‘I just want people to be happy… ’ he lamented, although in my eye-covering concern about our cornering by Sam’s Off Licence, I missed the logic leap that brought us to the conclusion ‘ …and if they would just fucking give me a Lancia… ’

I say Lancia. It was more than a Lancia. It was a Lancia with a list of specifications after it that sounded like a death metal band, you know. A Lancia XLR8 or something like that. I can’t remember. I know shit all about cars, especially fast cars. I’m much more MPG than MPH.

However, I had recently began driving my housemate’s car from time to time. It had been many years since I had passed my test, and to say I had gone stale in the interim would imply I could actually drive in the first place. All the same, I couldn’t help but notice my technique was, shall we say, not very manly. I would approach corners, slowing down all the time, and would take them with one foot firmly on the clutch, the other hovering on the brake. Sometimes I would momentarily close my eyes until it was over.

I noticed that some people used the other pedal, the quickener, when going round the bend. I didn’t understand this. Surely you want to slow down, not speed up. I decided I would ask Johnny. He would know.

‘Johnny, when I go round corners, I sort of drift around. But other people don’t. What’s the difference?’

His eyes and face suddenly ninety-degreed towards me. He met my eyes, then cast them down over me, and back up. It was a look of disgust and pity. I could see his brain working fast, but still not fast enough to deal with my stupidity. His mouth was moving. Quite a small mouth, it suddenly struck me. It was mouthing words, but none came out. He licked his lips, and in what seemed to be metamorphosing into anger, began to overbite. Think the video machine scene in Stone Monkey. That’s me.

He hammed up his anger, and eventually assembled an explanation.

‘You see, what you do is this…’

He didn’t actually say ‘you’. He said ‘people like you’. People like me?

‘You see, what people like you do is this…’

We were making our way at very high speed through town. This sense of speed can have something to do with being in a Mini, and low to the ground. It wasn’t. We were coming, rapidly to a bend.

‘What people like you do is this…’

Looking me in the eye, me looking into his, we went round a corner. I could see he was doing various things with various parts of the car – the pedals, rapidly interchanging, his little knees pumping up and down several times during the rapid manoeuvre, the gear stick, never at rest. Only the peripherally-observed needles on the dashboard seemed to know how I felt. Holding my stare, we took the corner, and accelerated off on the strait.

I couldn’t help but think that neither I nor people like I had ever done anything like that. We sped towards another corner.

‘… Whereas what I do is this…’

Again, the stare. I felt I had lost so much ground already I couldn’t afford not to look him in the eyes. Out of my left ear, I saw a sharp bend approach. The engine let out a series of ever increasing, pulsating roars. Knees moved in a blur. Elbows and hands moved at the sort of speed that made time move backwards. I felt our vehicle move in an excess of dimensions. In a physics-defying parabola, we went from forward velocity to a different forward velocity. Again, I missed the leap.

‘… so you see?’ Inquired Johnny.

Lesson over, we were both now free to look ahead. In the far distance I could see the remains of my balls squinting at the roadside. Are we nearly there yet, they asked.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mach the knife




A Story in more than one part – Part 1

In my climbing youth, I confess I was a Johnny fan. When I first started to see climbing mags, he was the star. In the first mag I ever owned, a High from 1986, sneaked out the door of Mitchell’s newsagents along with a Kerrang!, Shoot, and a copy of Flex, while Dee distracted with an enquiry about a subscription to the Radio Times, announced the Indian Face.

‘If you haven’t already heard, sit down and pour yourself a drink,’ announced Gary Gibson’s Rock Notes. Barely grasping the significance, I was told to be amazed, and was. Johnny Dawes has led The Great Wall at Cloggy. It is the boldest lead on British rock, and heralds the new grade of E9. Since then and before, nothing has matched the importance of the Indian Face to British climbing, and whatever great things can be said about the body of work of Jerry, Ron, Redhead, Ben, or even of Johnny himself, no single event can match it for iconic status. It was, and still is, Britain’s most important ascent.

Starstruck, I had Johnny pictures on my bedroom wall. One where he was crucified in the Quarryman groove. I immediately went and bought a Petzl Crux harness. I watched Stone Monkey – nothing would do but I’d get a pair of Reebok Royales. Neil Foster’s picture of Offspring, the era-defining image, and soon I was wearing tight red track-suit bottoms and a red, baggy acrylic jumper. Despite all this, my climbing never improved, which must have been due to the fact that I had a pair of Kamet Joshua Trees, while he wore Fires.

Eventually, with our positions as hero and supplicant firmly set, I once met him in the bar of the Victoria Hotel while I was on a climbing visit to North Wales. It had been a heady week. Paul Pritchard had already asked to tear a page from the Pete’s new routes book while I was reading it, and I was sure that was Jimmy Jewell in Joe Brown’s shop when I was in there browsing their range of polythene bottles.

I asked him one of the standard, stupid Stone Monkey questions people would have asked at the time – dogs, Zappa, high scores – I can’t remember which one in particular, and he was sweet enough to give me some of his own time. He kept me afloat with a few questions, until I eventually forced him away with my awful mock familiarity.

Since then I feel I’ve failed to shake the seeds sown in that first meeting, actually sown that day outside Mitchell’s newsagent. I’ve seen him a lot over the years, and have a particularly fond memory of sitting into the night with him, Rich Heap, Jean-Minh Trien-Thieu and John Allen, the night of the launch of Hard Grit. And at several times over the years I have had the opportunity to climb with him.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Changed priorities ahead


Climbing, as we all know, is a dangerous sport. You don't need me to tell you that. And when speaking to others, it is often this aspect that the fix upon, and it's not rare to be asked the question, What's the closest you've come to being killed?
Well, let me tell you.
It was in Kyrgyzstan, that gun-riddled melting pot of some of the maddest wildest cultures on the planet, yet, it was not a bullet that almost got me, but something a lot worser. I won't go in to the whole story, but at base camp I was afflicted with a faulty headtorch. It was one of the very old Petzl Zooms. The lazzy band had lost its vim, and the heavy parts drooped low over my eyes and down my neck. As well as this, a faulty wire meant that the light had an intermittent nature to it. Going off for no known reason. Then later, for even less, coming back on. Then off.
This was a pain in the arse.
Speaking of which, integral to the tale was me ever-recurrent case of norberts. My haemorrhoid's were playing up, as usually happened to me on any expedition. I have likened their blood-amplified pulsations to a painful atomic clock, keeping time with your agony. Any co-sufferers will no doubt emphasise here, and will be in the small percentage that do not snigger at people who are struck down by the disease.
The Pain was made even worse by the fact that I wasn't sleeping well at night. On the way in I had a brand new Thermarest, but due to the donkeymen's thrashing through thorn bushes, it had acquired a plethora of perforations, making it practically useless.
I was prepared for this, however, and had a tube seam sealant. Each day I would go to the river, inflate the mat and immerse it in the frigid melt-water, and seek to locate any points of bubble emissions, tell-tale signs of a puncture, often invisible to the naked eye.
I would then mark it with a pen, wait for it to dry, then squeeze some of the powerful seam sealant onto the spot, and hope. Unfortunately, with there being so many holes, each night the 'rest would redeflate, and this process went on day in, day out, almost throughout the entire trip.
Bedtimes were often, therefore, cantankerous affairs, what with the hemorrhoids, the thermarest and the faulty torch. That bloody torch. Often I would have to go on feel. But that was bad too. One evening whilst brushing my teeth, I accidentally squeezed out a pea-sized blob of E45 cream - a skin moisturiser, great for keeping expedition hands in good nick - onto my brush. Arrgh, the taste was horrible. Then in to the deflated thermarest, to pulse the night away. Great.
Bloody torch.
The only thing in my arsenal with which to calm the angry 'roids was my Preparation H, a tube of soothing cream that one applies to the epicentre of the pain to help the inflammation. It did indeed help. Each night I would digitally smooth some over the angry area. On one particular night, I was off to be, when, as usual, the torch packed up. Blast.
In the door of my tent, I was on all fours, half in, half out. I got the Prep H, squeezed some out on my finger tip, and was in the very act of slipping my hand under the elasticated waist of my fleece trousers, when, for its own reasons, the light came back on again. The sight made my blood turn cold.
For there, in my left hand was the tube. Yet not the Preparation H as I had imagined, but my handy and ever-useful tube of seam sealant.
I calmly brought out my right hand, rubbed off the glue on a tissue, and went to bed. A fitful night's sleep followed, of horrors and imaginations. I dreamt of myself getting bigger and bigger, one day to explode in base camp, my inside rent asunder by the backed-up pressure.
What a way to go.

Dig This. I had almost glued my own asshole shut!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You slap fatty in the face and I'll grab his cigar


This, as they say, is forking dynamite.
Oh, one thing, before I forget. I'm sure at this point we'll all join together to wish our old friend Kylie all the best. Apparently that rat, Oliver Martinez, dumped he by telephone. After all she's been through of late. In respect of her misfortune, and to show support, we're making her latest single, "I Chucked away the Letter but I kept the Free Oxfam Pen" our single of the week this week.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes. Only the other day I was doing that most shamefaced of things - googling my own name. Googling your own name, the last desperate attempt of anyone, like me, who, at some ever-receding point in one's life, and with only the mildest hint of embarrassment, could have been able to look you in the eye, nearly, and proclaim Ah yes, I'm a minor celebrity.
Minor, obviously, enshrined in the fact that it wasn't just my name I googled, but my name plus climbing plus UK plus Irish, and even more compromised by the fact that most of what we in the 'U' list refer to as 'Fame Moments' back in the day were actually cases of mistaken identity for Seb Grieve (which, due to his better dress, and despite his funny eyes, being better looking than me, I often decided to take as a compliment). But anyway, with that memory of fame receding faster than John Allen's hairline, the insecure and the unadjusted often fall back on Google to bolster the unbolstered ego, like scratch marks on the side of the lifeboat, or a Saigon civil servant's last efforts to hold on to the departing skid of a Bell helicopter on the rooftop of the American embassy.
Anyway, much to my surprise - and, having described my frail and needy state - joy, I happened, three down the list, to find this reference to the German website, climbing.de, run by a charming and lovely man, Martin Joisten. And there, half way down near the bottom, on the 20.07.2007, it referenced a blog entry I did recently, whereby I made up the fact that I had climbed some hard routes. Mick Ryan over at UKC, put up a link, and a thread started. The basic thrust of the thread? 'This isn't news!' My god, what do me and Lucy Creamer have to do to please those people?
Making stuff up is great, and I would recommend it to any young climber out there seeking a bit of the spotlight. In fact, send your make-ups into me at the BMC, and I'll put them in a guidebook for you. There, you can't say fairer than that.
Which reminds me of one other time I made something up. I made up a story where I kidnapped Jorry Moffatt, tied him up naked in the Stoney woodshed, and demanded as a ransom that Ben Moon take me climbing. We took some pics - Jerry nude, Ben hauling me up Hubble, and it was published. Later, a friend called Ben Tye said he was in a newsagents and saw two young lads flick through the mag, and when they saw the photo of me on Hubble, said Wow. When he told me this - well - I would have to say, it was probably the happiest moment of my life.
Make stuff up.
I wonder am I famous in Germany now, England's best climber? Perhaps I could arrange a lecture tour. Perhaps get the top German Krimpundkrankmagaziner, Raus und Ich, to jet me over, perhaps do a couple of interviews, an album of cover versions? It's not Unusual, It's in his Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song), Push the Button, I Wanna Have Your Babies, Mama's Gonna Knock You Out, Oh Superman. What else?
Would I be modest? Perhaps talk about my training. Be really forking nice, perhaps. Talk shite?
Then I thought, Hang on, that kidnap article was printed too in Germany. And you know what they're like. Maybe it's a trap. Maybe I'm still wanted for kidnap and indecency on the streets of Nürnberg. Maybe when I get off the Lufthansa, it'll not be a bunch of models and microphones, it'll be the Stazi and they'll whack me in jail for the foreseeable, with only that Man and a Van to guard me?
That's the thing about dynamite. It's all good fun, but it's not the sort of thing you want to go off in your pocket.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm so mean I made medicine sick


When at the crag, or in most places, I suppose, I have a habit of saying Hello to people. Strangers, mostly. It’s Derry thing: we all do it there. I don’t know why, but when walking down the street, and someone is coming the opposite way, there is every chance that both parties will look each other in the eye, and greet. “Alright mucker” “’Bout ye?” and then be gone. It seemed normal enough at the time, but nowadays, I often forget myself, and still do it. Which is okay, I suppose.

But, yes, I was at Stanage, and saw a face, and said Hello. No harm done, and the person even said Hello back. Said something about the friction or what have you. “Right on,” I replied. He had an at-the-crag-face, one of those that you don’t know whether you have seen before and spoke to a lot, once, or never seen before, but just looks like a ‘climber’. Probably called John or Andy or Simon, you know the type. A friendly sort. Forgettable. He had just done Flying Buttress, the classic VDiff, and we spoke a bit about how wonderful a climb it was.

The weather was beautiful, I had just soloed Queersville, and was smiling.

“Off for another go today then are you?” he asked.


He had a helmet on.

“What’s that?” is said, still smiling.

“Still alive, obviously?”

I wondered what he was talking about, of course I’m still alive. Another go at what? Maybe I had met him somewhere.

“My mate tried it, found it desperate, pumped out and fell off too.”

I was smiling, but shaking my head in a vague confusion.

“You should try one of them bat hangs, like McClure does. But then if you fell off like that you’d crack head open.”

He jacked his thumb towards the overhangs of Flying Buttress Direct, gave what might have been a wink.

Flying Buttress Direct? What does the Helmet mean? I had soloed it earlier that day. He must be…

Then. The penny dropped.

I had written an article for Summit Magazine, in which, for the purpose of the story, I had pretended I had fallen off Flying Buttress Direct while soloing it. Summit Magazine, for you who don’t know, the official organ of the BMC. (The BMC, for those of you who don’t know, is the British Mountaineering Club.) Summit Magazine is that collection of printed pages that drops through your letterbox four times a year as an unwelcome consequence of your desire to get insurance to go to the Alps. That, still wrapped in cellophane, carries its journey benignly onwards to the recycling afterlife a few days later along with the pizza flyers and TV licence demands. Summit. If all this is news to you, then you are forgiven.

But yes, the penny had dropped. Of course, the man was referring to what I had said in the article. Lord Jesus, I thought. This man had READ SUMMIT. I stepped back – looked anew. What else was he? A serial killer? A battle re-enactor? A Bird Watcher? Fear and disgust washed over me. I felt weak, but knew I must keep my wits about me. I fumbled…

“Yes… got to go and… Do it… now… please. PLEASE.”

I turned round and ran, ran away from Flying Buttress, from Helmet. I ran and I ran and I kept on running.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Heavens to Murgatroid


You’re all off your heads. Really. Every last Jack and Jill amongst you you’re forever doing things I cannot understand for reasons I cannot guess at. I see it all the time, and forever wonder to myself, Why did they do that?

But I donnot judge. Which is important. It’s important not to judge and it’s good not to judge. And one of the ways I have of not judging others is to observe that in myself, I too sometimes do things that seem hard to explain, things that, upon sober reflection, I am forced to admit was odd.

It was a Friday damp rush hour grind. The usual. The heavy chain of traffic on the M67 was getting wound round the cog of the Mottram roundabout; us all just choiceless parts in a pointless machine, unoiled and inefficient.

Clutches eased in and out of first. Drivers behind the wheels reduced to a few simple tasks, operating mainly on brainstem. Simply put, make sure there’s never more than two feet between you and the car in front. The field of vision reduced to a degree or two from the stop light ahead. Apart from that, keep your short-tempered rage on idle, ready to explode at an instant’s notice upon any perceived transgressions, like a cold-war bomber constantly on missions to the enemy border waiting for the order – Nuke Moscow! “Go on mate, try to cut in. Please. I dare you.” The whole metabolism eased off to within a fraction of normal operating levels. Like the boy trapped under the ice.

How else could you survive it?

I had passed three of the five markers I use to note progress along the conveyor belt: the warning sign that the three lanes are dropping to two, the point where the three lanes drop to two, and the sign that there’s a roundabout in 550 yard’s time.

I have a habit of constantly looking at the counters on the dashboard – clock, radio frequency, revs, fuel, speed and temperature gauge – just to keep my eyes feeling important, and have noticed that the temperature gauge has been creeping up. Near the red. I don’t normally worry about such things, obviously it’s because the car is inching along in first, but after it had gone even further, now into the red, I decided I would stop the car and let it cool off. I indicated left, and crept onto the hard shoulder and switched off the car.

With some relief I stepped from both the car and the grind, and stood outside. It was dark, but the drizzle had stopped. Maybe I should check the engine, I thought.

The two things I know about car engines is how to tighten a fan belt and how to fill the windscreen squirty. Perhaps one of these was the problem. I popped the bonnet catch and walked to the front to lift the hood.

It was a counterweighted type, one that when you lifted it a certain distance, it opened itself, and didn’t need a metal rod to hold it up. I tipped it upwards, and as momentum took over and the bonnet erected itself, a huge ball of flames rose from the engine and licked skywards. The engine was on fire.

“Good Holy Jesus!” I thought, the engine’s on fire. And tightening the fan belt or topping up the squirty won’t help that.
What had caused this I did not know, but this will explain the temperature incresese.

At times of utter emergency, there’s so little chance that the right thing will enter your head, that if anything enters your head at all, you should grasp it gratefully and act quick. So, while I didn’t run like hell in case the fuel tank blew, disperse the traffic for their own safety, or call for the emergency services, I did at least act quick.

I ran to the passenger door, flung it open with gusto, bouncing it off the limit of its hinges. Seeing what I needed I dived my arm strikingly into the footwell, and grasped its grey metal, fingers about the lock, like an Excalibur.

With it I Hollywooded to the helm, feet, most likely, skidding in the verge dust. To the furnace! Eyes adjusting to the blaze, I saw what I believed to be the heart of the fire. With the tool in both hands, I brought it high above my head, and stabbed it aggressively at the fire, thudding it onto the engine’s metal, like a bayonet. Again I brought it down, again and again, stabbing mercilessly at the heart of the fire. Destroying it.

A waft of heat forced me back, reeling away, twisting my face out of the inferno. In doing so, my eyes turned towards the dark world beyond, and I focussed on the creeping line of traffic just beyond. Gloomy ghostpale faces were turned in my direction, expressionless, zombie-like. Looking like jellyfish in black water. What was happening was obviously just interesting enough to cause them not to look away, like ITV Saturday night, and they were looking at me.

Their interest snapped me out of my actions for a moment, and caused my to become conscious of myself. I looked at my hands. They were holding a steering lock, shaped like two narrow ‘J’s, joined end to end and offset at ninety degrees, one J designed to hook round the accelerator pedal, one around the steering wheel. The curves of the J’s were covered in bright, soft orange plastic to protect the metalwork. The end for the steering wheel, which had been in the fire, was now ablaze, little fizzling smokedense blobs of burning plastic dripping off the end onto the ground at my feet.

My car had caught fire. I had acted quickly to grab a steering lock, and with it I had attempted to quell the fire by bludgeoning the flames with the metal bar.

That’s what I had done.

I looked now at the car. Blazes were still thrusting from somewhere within. The underside of the bonnet had an insulating layer, and this, now, was also on fire. However, I did notice that the windscreen wash tub looked pretty full.

“Oh man, my car engine is on fire,” I said aloud. I said it out loud so I would hear, and perhaps do something about it. I did.

I needed to douse it. I ran to a passing car. Their window was down, and I asked for water. They didn’t have any. What they had was a flask of tea. I snatched it, and ran to the car. Something in me said Electrical Fire, and warned me about liquids and electrocution. Oh well, I thought, if anything can dull the death-jolt it’s a cup of Friday afternoon flask-tea. I undid the top, and filled a cup with the brown liquid, and tossed it on the flames. I filled another and did the same, and with a third I threw it on the bonnet flames.

The flask was now empty, and I had to run ten yards towards Mottram to return it.

Again I asked a passer, this time getting a quarter litre of Buxton spring water. Its pathetic contents did little to calm the situation. Another gave me a near-finished can of Diet Coke. Nothing.

Smother the fire, I thought, and reached bravely for the edge of the bonnet, and pulled it down. This had the twin benefits of possibly helping put out the fire, as well as hiding the horror. Is the petrol tank going to blow, I couldn’t help wonder.

“Here mate,” called a man in a hi-viz vest from the passenger side of a transit. He held a mostly full five litre bottle of Tesco saver water. I snatched it, flung again the bonnet, gasped at the blaze, and started shaking the water on. It took a few shakes to empty the bottle, but when I did, I looked to see that the fire had been reduced to clusters of flowing orange sparks.

Steam and smokes rose from the scene, but the fire was definitely out. The bonnet was scorched. The coating had melted off many wires, revealing scarey bare copper. Plastic pipes were melted open, gaping holes revealed themselves in hoses. The metal engine parts were blackened. The headlight unit had melted and slumped. Pools of liquid sat on surfaces. The window squirty was still at a good level, but in general the engine looked like a bomb had gone off.

I sat down, exhausted emotionally, in the driver seat. The traffic crept on slowly, and I must have sat there for a time because when I looked again, it had cleared, only the odd car passing now in good time.

I went to the front of the car again. The smouldering had almost stopped. An outstretched, open palm tested the temperature, and it seemed cool enough. I pulled the bonnet down, and it clicked into place.

I sat down again in the driver seat and wondered at my situation. No police or AA had come along, amazingly. I owned no mobile phone, so couldn’t call for assistance. What a pain. What should I do?

To satisfy my curiosity, I put the key in the hole, and clicked it one click. The electrics came on. Squinting then, to protect myself in case the car exploded, I turned further. The car burst into life, albeit a funny sounding one. I looked – clock, revs, fuel, speed and temperature gauge – all looked well. I put the car into first and rolled back onto the road, and on towards the roundabout. It actually went, although I made the precaution of not putting on my seat belt lest I need to leap from the vehicle at some point.

Going round the roundabout I switched on the radio. A comedy was on with Johnny Vegas on it. I like him, he’s funny, but I’d heard the show before, so I switched over instead to Radio Two.