Friday, 30 November 2012

Things are looking up


John, over on 'Going Gently' (I'm not going to link it - he gets far too many comments for his own good as it is - 54 at the last count - oh, alright then) talked about how confident and sophisticated young people are today, as compared the the cardboard-box upbringing of the average blogger - the average blogger being around 70 years of age.

It reminded me of a recent realisation that you never see kids climbing trees these days. I used to be a whiz at climbing trees - it might have been the one sporty thing I did best. I had a long reach and I was quite light, plus I was brought up in a heavily wooded area. There was one huge purple beech that I was always up, and having climbed it to the top once, I knew every foothold and reachable branch so that I could clamber up in a matter of seconds, then spend a couple of hours in lofty isolation watching my parents wonder where I was through the canopy of leaves below. I even slept in it at one point - without falling off - cradled in a matrix of branches which supported me perfectly.

You could say that today's Health and Safety obsessed environment (in my day, we were obsessed with Health and Efficiency) forbids tree-climbing without a harness - it does, actually - but I think it is more to do with a general attitude to settees and pizzas.

Going up is always a lot easier than going down. Going down was where the panic set in for the average schoolboy, but you could always be talked down by a terrified friend waiting 40 feet below you - terrified about being told off for allowing you to break your neck without intervening to stop it.

For me though, tree-climbing was a solitary experience. It is another world up there - easily reachable from the ground and yet so far away from it.

The other thing is that (as Bonny Prince Charlie worked out) it is amazing how hardly anyone ever bothers to look up. You can sit comfortably about 20 feet above the heads of hostile adults and listen to them as they discuss your downfall, trying to stifle your laughter at their stupidity.

Almost nobody who had not been previously warned about it noticed the new pub-sign I (and my glamorous assistant) have made recently, but just walked beneath it as they did with the old sign on countless occasions. Even my glamorous assistant did not know of the existence of the old sign, which had been swinging above his head for about 25 years.

I used to look up far more than I do these days since I developed some sort of arthritic neck, but I still remind myself to crane upwards on a fine day, and there is always something to see.

A buzzard circling on a thermal - a distant dot, half a mile above. A stratospheric weather balloon - a little white dot at the edge of the earth. An airliner passing through at 50,000 feet usually sparks off a competition to guess the exact quantity of complimentary peanuts on board, between me and whoever is with me at the time. 'Warning - May Contain Nuts'.

I once looked up into a clear, blue, summer sky to see a meteor flash into our atmosphere, leaving a straight, white trail behind it which hung there for three minutes. You can see Jupiter in broad daylight - if you know where to look.

I wonder how many alien angels have crept beneath the radar as we have slept, or walked with our eyes in the gutter, looking for dropped coins.


22 comments:

  1. My late mother's two favourite pastimes were Tree Climbing, and Dam Building (on small streams). She was particularly adept at the former.

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    1. I saw a huge, Russian gangster spend all day, every day, building sand-castles on a beach in Cuba once.

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  2. I still enjoy cloud watching
    (even though we have not has much cloud watching weather this year)
    and often I can been seen lying on my back in the field......looking up at the heavens

    I adore the pastime!
    go on peeps
    get on you back and look up!

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    1. I can only remember lying on my back in a field in my '20's John and I wasn't looking at the clouds !!!!.....but, I do like a bit of cloud watching. I'm always looking up wherever I am as there is so much to see, especially from an architectural point of view.....you can miss so much.
      ......... and, I was a tomboy and was pretty good at climbing trees myself.
      The way that you wrote that post Tom made me think of Adrian Edmondson's portrayal of Dick in the The Comic Strip version of The Famous Five ' Five Go Mad in Dorset' !! ......did you used to have lots of picnics with lashings and lashings of ginger beer ?!! XXXX

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  3. The breeze in the trees is a sweet picture. It's still easy to look up, though not from my back in a field. There's a getting up from there problem. Stability is another problem, but I have a good cane. I wonder if people know a good cane is like a good rudder.

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    1. Do you have mobility problems, Joanne?

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  4. elf and safety eh? we all climbed trees but not in fields. we played on bomb sites. We spent all our time in the old gardens and cellars of big bombed out houses. Mother didn't care where we were, as long as we were out of the house. We all lived to tell the tale.

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  5. Yes, I agree Johns numerous comments are obscene. What can we do about that ?!?!?
    So happy to report my GK's climb trees. Their mother warns them "get down, you'll get hurt" as she leaves the drive I yell "Get up there and make sure your mother leaves" It's grand being a grandparent.

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    1. Hit the 'Report Abuse' button, and let's get him silenced for good.

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  6. just noticed the girl in the picture. how easy it is not to look!

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    1. Computer bollocks, I think - actually know.

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  7. Fascinating picture, I keep going back to look at it again. Tree climbing was a favorite past time of mine when I was a young girl. I shunned all girly past times and spent all my time terrorizing the neighborhood by riding my motorcycle, roaming the woods and riding ponies. Dolls for were girly girls, and trees were for tom boys, so that's where you could find me. I even surprised my husband by hoisting my old arse into a cherry tree a couple years ago to fetch some particularly sweet looking cherries that I couldn't reach. Not bad for an old broad.

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    1. Hoisting your old arse into a cherry tree... food for thought

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  8. I agree we don't look up enough. When I first moved to the country from the city I was overwhelmed by the starry sky - so many more without light pollution. I've been here 10 years now and I still love to look up at the night sky.

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    1. Lucky you for all that darkness. Wish I could say the same thing about Dracula.

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  9. My son, Rob, loved to climb trees -- couldn't stop him, didn't want to. One day my late mother-in-law, sat watching him and suddenly screamed, "Do you see what he's doing?" (Implying the words, 'Do your job and make him stop'.
    To which I replied, "NO, don't tell me, I don't want to know!"

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  10. I used to climb trees as a kid. At 14, working on the stage crew for a school play, i was on some scaffolding working on repositioning one of the lights. I got done, and one of the other stagehands said, "Hold on," unlocked the wheels, and moved me with the scaffolding. That initial bump and movement scared me, and i felt vertigo. I've noticed ever since if i'm at any height with nothing to hold onto that i feel a little queasy or nervous and haven't climbed a tree since. Never made that connexion until reading your post.

    I love looking up at the night skies to see stars. I don't cloud watch as much, but still do from time to time.

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    1. There was a great story (letter in an astronomy magazine) about an astronomer father who let his little girl peep through the eyepiece of his huge telescope, at a clear night sky studded with stars.

      She burst into tears, and he asked what was the matter.

      She said, "Oh Daddy - it's too beautiful. I don't deserve it."

      That story always reduces me to tears.

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