Why the President has finally abandoned rock (before he even touched it)

The President phoned me Tuesday night. I was most surprised, because he has only phoned me before when he wanted something done on the hut; like how to turn the vacuum cleaner on, or how to turn the oven off. So I was even more surprised to find he was quite chatty whilst he talked about the Club’s current controversial subjects - such as health and safety on rambles, floorboarding and fire escapes - in that smooth and silky, John Le Mesurier type voice. I wondered if he actually knew who he was talking to because I was no longer in the loop, a reject from the Committee and no longer receiving personal emails from the Secretary, except to advise him once a year on which victims were doing the next speeches. However, the President then finished saying that after all the ‘stick’ and bantering he had been receiving recently, he had decided to swallow his pride (or fear) and was going to come out climbing on the morrow. This was immensely encouraging and I felt a little embarrassed that I had apparently pushed him into making this decision. He finished by saying “I’ll see you tomorrow on High Tor,” and then put the phone down. I sat there for a few seconds, transfixed with the phone in my hand. Was it just a slip of the tongue, or did the President really mean High Tor, a high, steep and very scary limestone crag in Matlock Bath and not the true venue, High Neb, a more friendly gritstone crag on Stanage? After a few seconds, I decided the President had indeed merely said the wrong name, and promptly forgot all about it.

We went to High Neb tonight and had a good time climbing on the crag, but of the President there was no sign – disappointing, as I had told everybody else he was coming, and they were looking forward to their free drinks in the Scotsmans. However, there was just a little niggle in the back of my mind…

I got home late, and the phone rang. I could tell from the frenzied ring tone that it was the President, and I somehow knew I wasn’t going to like what I was going to hear. I thought about leaving it, but the ringing got louder and more frenzied so I plucked up courage and answered. The President spoke, no – shouted, no longer silky and smooth, which surprised me as I didn’t think he could shout. Using my best counselling skills, nurtured from years on the Committee, I managed to calm him down and he began to explain what happened. I must admit to feeling guilty that it was all I could do to suppress smirking, as he told his tale of woe.

His Bridge partner last night had lent him an aged rock climbing book, where it recommended that to climb on limestone you needed metal spikes or pitons and flexible aluminium ladders. Our President had interpreted this slightly differently and went to B & Q where he indeed purchased some metal garden spikes, a lump hammer and, because the aluminium ladders were more expensive, a cheap six foot wooden step ladder made in India. I must admit to being impressed when he said that he staggered up to the base of High Tor with this load. However, he was not greeted very amicably by the climbers present, and consequently received much verbal abuse and hurling of rocks, the eventual breaking point being the F word shouted at him as he retreated in embarrassment. Evidently, the spikes, hammer and ladder were hurled into the Derwent in disgust, the ladder by now probably floating down the Trent.

I didn’t know what to say, as I felt that the incident was partly my fault, but I didn’t let him know that. He was obviously very upset, and his attempt to climb rock had probably taken a permanent U turn. I thought it prudent not to ask him to join a caving trip down Peak with Hoody in October – at least I’ll give it a week or two. It just remains to organise a suitable member to counsel the President, but I fear the damage done is irreversible. Now, would the Vice President be any good at counselling…?

***

The above narrative, of course, is a complete fabrication, at least the section on High Tor is. However, I do fear that the President’s first attempt to draw blood on a quartz lined grit hand jam, is probably now over. Now, who else can we pick on…?

High Neb was rained off dramatically anyway (yet another Wednesday bites the dust) - but Mike and Rob went off in the rain to see if they could get up an E1 Mike had been cleaning at some obscure crag in Ashover. They ended up having a beer at Glyn’s instead in between the claps of thunder.

Only Rob, Mike and Syd went to Stoney last week, Aurora Arete, Pearly Gates and Minestrone being amongst those climbed. Three Hips claimed it was “pissing wet” at home. Those at Stoney assumed it was a complete fabrication, as there was not a cloud in the sky.