Archive for November, 2010

An interview with Michael Graeme. (In Second Life)
Part 3

by Eileanne Odisark

Writing, publishing, becoming an independent author

E: Okay,… getting back to your writing, what kind of stories did you start out with?

M: Oh,… no half measures – they were full length novels, romantic stuff and adventures,…

E: Can you tell me a little about them?

M:  I finished my first one “Shadow of a cloud” at the age of 22. It was a sort of spy novel, set in the cold war, full of glamorous, sexy characters, fast cars and jet aeroplanes. It was never published and spent longer doing the rounds than it took me to write on a clickety clack old typewriter. I eventually destroyed it in order to spare myself future embarassment. The next one was “Sara’s Choice” circa 1985, more of a straight romance, also unpublished and I’ll destroy that as soon as I can remember where I put it.

E: You didn’t think they were any good?

M: I did at the time, but I was a lot younger and emotionally naive, naive about the way of the world too. They were earnest and sincere, I think,  but they were also juvenile. Every writer has stories like those – at least I hope they do. Sara was an interesting character but I didn’t really have the experience of life to get to the bottom of her. I may have another crack at that one some time, if she’ll let me. I seem to remember leaving her in a bit of an awkward situation, and I’d like to rescue her if I can – she deserves a happy ending and she’s been waiting a long time for one.

E: What about “The Singing Loch” and “Langholm Avenue” ?

M: They came much later, when I was in my later twenties, middle thirties. I thought they were okay, and I still do. They did the rounds for a bit,  but then I wised up and stopped sending my manuscripts out.

E: Wised up?

M: It’s the only way to describe it – either that or it was the shattering of my naive ambitions, which doesn’t sound as up-beat, does it? But basically, it began to feel impossible, you know? You can easily spend years writing a novel, then you send it out, and it keeps coming back, only it takes ages: months and months and months. Then it comes back a little dog eared, so you freshen it up and send it out again, and before you know it so many years have passed you can’t remember what your story’s about any more. You want to move on, because you’ve got all these other ideas for other stories bubbling up inside of you, but you’ve got this story that you once loved that keeps coming back and hitting you over the head, reminding you of your own incompetence, and whispering in your ear: “Why are you doing this? You can’t write.”

E: Publishers said your stories were no good?

M: No, they didn’t say anything at all, other than they weren’t interested in publishing them. Of course it’s up to to them. Wannabe writers get angry and embittered at what they see as a publisher’s ignorance or stupidity for not recognising their genius immediately. But they forget publishers are running a business, they have to balance their worthy ambitions to disseminate quality literature with the more prosaic need to stay financially solvent. Then they get these arrogrant, self posessed strangers sending them weighty manuscripts to read – what a pain that must be – and of course they’re under no obligation to say or do anything with them at all.

E:  So, you’re saying what? It was the lack of feedback from publishers you found frustrating as much as their rejections?

M: Yes, but like I said they’re under no obligation. Still, if your work is no good it would be useful to have an impartial voice telling you so. There’s a marvellous scene in the movie “Motorcycle Diaries” where the young Che Guevara is given the manuscript of a novel to read by a doctor who’s also a wannabe novelist.  Che tells him straight, that its poor, he can’t write and the doctor should stick to what he knows. The doctor is stunned but also immensely grateful to Che for his brutal honesty.

Honesty like that hurts, naturally, but then you can either go away and improve, or give up. But the reality for wannabe story writers is different. You’re working in the dark. All the time. If you show your work to others it’s usually people you know and they don’t want to hurt your feelings, so unless there’s someone with whom you have an extraordinarily trusting rapport, then you’re on a loser.

So you send the damned thing out on the off chance a publisher has a mental aberration and elevates it above the slush pile. A writer has to be really desperate to stick with a system like that – either that or they have no choice. It’s like the lottery – you might be lucky, and let’s face it, someone always wins, but the difference is in writing it can take you years to fill out your ticket.

Writing is what I do. I can’t help it. It pours out of me, but I found the route to getting published was as arcane as an alchemical text. And I gave up on it – the publishing, not the writing – because when the internet came along, the game began to change a little, and a writer suddenly had more options. The game of conventional publishing began to look serious dull.

E: So you went online, but basically you’ve never had anything published in the printed press at all?

M: Not true. Around 1993, I did a Writing School correspondence course. It came with a cast iron guarantee: you make more than your course-fees in sales of work, or they give you your money back. So I thought – well – if that’s true then I’ve nothing to lose. I did the course and after a couple of years, they gave me my money back. But I learned a lot about plot construction and conflict and all that, and it kept me writing, but it was also while doing the course my tutor put me onto a magazine called Ireland’s Own.

E: They published you?

M: Yes. I’d changed tack by then and I was trying to hone my craft as they say by writing short stories, rather than full length novels. Ireland’s Own began accepting them – just not enough to cover the course fees while I was doing it, so the Writing School paid up. They made nothing out of me, and fair play to them for doing that.

E: So, how many stories did you publish?

M: About 20 altogether, over the space of a decade. Ireland’s Own’s the only magazine ever to have taken my work seriously, and I’m  grateful to them for telling me I could write to a publishable standard, and for giving me the confidence later on, to stick two fingers up at anyone who said I couldn’t.

E: But you’ve not published anything anywhere else?

M: No, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. Anything else I wrote, which didn’t  fit Ireland’s Own’s very traditional requirements, and to be honest that amounted to 99% of my work, was bounced back from everywhere I could think of sending it to.

E: So then you became an Indy Author?

M: I’m not even sure what that is, but it sounds cool so I’ll go with it. Yes. In 1998,  the internet came into my living room. I was intrigued by its potential as a means of self-publishing. To most people it’s a marvelous way of getting at information – a real paradigm shift that anyone born after that time just won’t appreciate now, but to me the fact that anyone in the world could also go on there and set up a permanent presence for themselves – I mean not just governments and businesses, but anyone – that was amazing to me. I had a basic site up and running straight away.

E: This was the Rivendale Review?

M: Yep. Twelve years ago now.

E: Is it well visited?

M: Hardly. It’s recently clocked up 23,000 hits, but some sites get that in a day. I get about 5hits per day.

E: It doesn’t sound like much. Is it worth the effort, keeping it up for 5 hits a day?

M: Sure it is, otherwise the pieces I put on there would just be sitting in a drawer. But it was also an experiment – I mean it was an unusual medium, this internet thing – unknown territory really, and I felt I needed to stick with it, like riding a wave, because it might lead to somewhere interesting eventually. I wasn’t expecting miracles. I was just trying to keep an eye on the longer view.

E: And this was when Michael Graeme was born? Why didn’t you stick with your real name? Build on your rep as a published author.

M: Well, it wasn’t much a rep, was it? And to me a published author’s someone with a novel on the bookshelves at Waterstones. Plus the internet was like a wide open window on the whole world and there were a lot of scare stories in the hysterical press about naive web-surfers basically inviting psychopathic stalkers to come knocking on their doors. So, in the first instance Michael Graeme provided a layer of anonymity, totally divorcing his real life persona – what I call my primary personality: family man, engineer, mower of lawns, etc – from the guy who sat down each evening to write.

And there was also the fact that a lot of what I wrote online came from the deeper layers of my psyche and I wasn’t comfortable with the people I met in my day to day, workaday life knowing those were the sorts of things I thought about. They’d just take the piss, and I would have to laugh along to be polite, and I didn’t want to do that. I mean all the I Ching stuff and my more mystical material. I was technical, you see? Rational, and strictly  non-spiritual. I didn’t want to appear suddenly unreliable, or like I’d lost my marbles or anything – even though I believed wholeheartedly in what I wrote.

You might say it amounts to lacking the courage of my convictions, but I’m fine with my convictions – I’m not trying to evangelise here – and you just have to be pragmatic. There are no answers in the things I write. I pose the muse more riddles than she solves for mw – and if that gets people thinking about things in their own way, then  great. The last thing we want is a world of zombiefied consumers who don’t think about the big issues any more.

E: The big issues?

M: Life. Meaning. What is it that makes a good human being? What is it that breaks them? What’s the right way to live? I’m only saying that we should at least think about these things, all of us, and not be lulled to sleep by  soap-operas, and adverts for consumerist crap all the time.

E: So,… you sort of split yourself in two – decided the inner stuff had nothing to do with people you met in the day to day, only those souls you encountered, or who encountered you, online?

M: Yes, that’s fair. Michael Graeme is a kind of secondary personality – same experience of life, as the primary, but he puts a different spin on it and he’s not as afraid of exploring the sometimes untidy fringes of psychical experience. I kind of went undercover, or does that sound too dramatic?

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An interview with Michael Graeme

Part 2

by Eileanne Odisark

Background, Education, Religion, Philosophy

E: So,… can you tell me when and where were you born? I mean in real life.

M: Well, my primary personality was born in 1960, in the North West of England. UK.

E: And your schooling?

M: I went to state primary and secondary schools, then took up a technical apprenticeship with an engineering company in 1977.

E: You didn’t go to college or university?

M: College yes, university no. As part of my training I studied at Wigan Technical College, and later at the Bolton Institute of Technology (which I think calls itself a university now). I attended both as a day release student. I got a Higher National Diploma at one, the Engineering Council Part 2 Certificate at the other. That last one was really tough, but I’m guessing no one outside of the profession’s even heard of it.

E: And you’re married?

M: Yep, married with two children, and I still live in the North West of England.

E: So,… by my calculations you’re fifty now?

M: Guilty as charged, ma’am.

E: Tell me about the writing. Did you take it up in later life, or is it something you’ve always done?

M: Always done it. I got into it seriously when I was writing fiction during my English O-Level days – I’d be about 14 or 15. I found it both satisfying, and cathartic.

E: Cathartic? You mean therapeutic?

M: Yes. It’s also good to escape into it if things aren’t going too well in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a tortured upbringing or anything, and life’s always been pretty good. The writing sort of helps to smooth out the lumps and bumps, that’s all. It has a serious purpose of its own beyond that of course, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. I only know it’s something I can’t stop doing any more than I can willingly stop breathing.

E: So, you have a day job and write part-time, but did you never want to write full time, I mean as a career?

M: Sure I did. From my later teens up to I guess my late twenties I wanted nothing more than to quit the dayjob and “write stories” for a living. I think every writer wants that. Of course they do. It’s what they love and in a perfect world everyone should be able to do what they love.

E: What stopped you?

M: The voice of reason. The road to Wigan Tech., and a regular paycheck from a factory was a safer bet, I mean, financially. If I suddenly made it with one of my novels, I could always quit the dayjob at that point, and take it up full time, but in the mean time it made sense to earn the bucks some other way. A guy has to live, pay a mortgage, run a car and just make his way independently in the world. I couldn’t do that by writing, no matter how much I loved it.

E: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

M: Background? You mean family? Social and income bracket and all that?

E: If it’s not too private,… in general terms.

M: Well,… I suppose my background is working class, if that means anything any more, though by education and by simply turning up at work every morning for thirty three years I’ve found myself in lower middle-class employment.

My father was a Colliery Deputy, and a working class intellectual. He had no formal education after the age of fourteen, other than what he put himself through at night school – and he was always studying something. He worked his way up from the coal face, to shot-firing, and then deputy. He patrolled a district down the pit by night, and by day he read the classics, studied geology, astronomy, and archeology. He died young, when I was 14 and I’ve still not forgiven God for that.

E: Your father was a big influence on you?

M: Yes, he was. He was always writing, pondering, learning.

E: It also sounds like you had a falling out with God over his death?

M: Well, you’re bound to ask questions, and have your faith shaken after something like that, aren’t you?

E: You mention faith? Did you have a religious upbringing?

M: Religious, yes. Spiritual, no.

E: Erm,… explain?

M: I grew up in the Church of England, but then I grew out of it around the age of 11. I was familiar with the structure of my religion by then, the stories, the dogmas, but I had no sense of the spiritual at all. It seemed to rest on nothing but trust, that you had to just believe in all this stuff. It wasn’t really possible to experience it. It was boring.

E: So you became an atheist?

M: No,… I was never an atheist – I just didn’t think about it, that’s all. Religion became irrelevant. I found the traditional teachings to be simplistic, and incomprehensible – no offence intended to anyone – these are just my personal views. Also I suppose the premature death of a beloved parent, and an exclusively technical education all conspired to ensure that by the time I reached my twenties the only things I believed in were cars and girls.

E: But there’s a strong mystical streak in a lot of your stories. Something must have changed along the way?

M: That sense of the mystical, the mystery of life, it’s always been there. It’s just that religion never gave a voice to it. I’ve always done a lot of hill-walking and always felt something strange while I was doing it – indeed that’s what kept drawing me back to it. It’s still a mystery, but the exploration of the highlands of my country became also a meditation and an exploration of the insides of myself.

E: An inner journey?

M: Yes. Hard to explain really. It was also a perplexing journey that culminated unxepectedly in a full blown mystical experience in the Newlands Valley, in the English Lakes, around the turn of the century. It’ll take too long to get into that now, but if I didn’t know before then it was pretty obvious to me afterwards that religion’s easy: you learn the lines, you clean your shoes, you turn up every Sunday and try not to nod off during the sermon. But spiritual matters – they’re important, they’re also more difficult to get a handle on, but they’re real and potentially life-transforming.

I’m still not a religious person. I still find all outward forms of religion incomprehensible, and as my occasional muse Beatrix Potter reminds me: “mainly useless” – again no offence – but my feel for spiritual matters has deepened to the point where I think I can now say with confidence, at least to myself, there is something to the universe beyond what we can see.

E: So,… what does your cosmos, your God look like?

M: I don’t know if I’d describe it as God. I can’t describe it, except to say it looks nothing like what I was told about in Sunday School, unless that’s what I want it to look like. It’s not an omnipotent deity. There is something, but I see it as being as powerless to intervene in worldy affairs as we are ourselves.

E: That sounds like a useless kind of God?

M: Yes. But either God doesn’t exist or we’ve got the wrong idea about what God is, because every second of every day a lot of very bad things happen in the world, and the only thing you can say for sure is that when people pray for the bad things to stop happening, God is the person who doesn’t answer.

That’s the jaded view, and I’m being a bit unfair to God. But I also think there is a power in the universe that is tending towards the good, that in so far as it can be anything, it is of benign intent, rather than malign. If we’re wise, and we can detect its workings, we can align ourselves with it and then we get to places without even trying. Work against it though and you just wear yourself out getting nowhere.

None of this is new. You’ll find clues to it in Buddhism, in Daoism and in Jungian Psychology. Other threads will lead you to the western mystery tradition, to the old world alchemists and to the lesser known teachings of Pythagoras, and the Pantheon of Greek mystics. Other threads will lead you into the Shamanic traditions of indigenous cultures the world over, but all of it is pointing to the same thing, that there’s something funny about the insides of our heads, and if you want to know God, or Big Mind, or whatever you want to call it, you’re better off not raising your face to the sky, but turning inside youself instead.

E: But surely the only thing inside of ourselves is what we make up? It’s imaginary.

M: It depends how you view that term “imaginary”. Do we make it up? Some of it we do, of course, but is there not also a bedrock of imaginary, non-literal reality? That’s the question.

I suppose I’ve come to see that the nature of reality is, in essence, psychological. I’m not sure I have the skill to convey this in a way that won’t seem ridiculous to others – but I have a sense that the physical world is thought into being, either by something outside of us, or by us ourselves collectively, and that the world we get is the one we most believe in.

E: So, does this world view include a belief in heaven or an afterlife, or reincarnation or anything?

M: That’s complicated, and I don’t know – there’s good evidence for both reincarnation and some kind of continuance of life after death.

E: Evidence? Really?

M: Yes, a lot of it’s very old and came out of the scientific work of the early founders of the Society for Psychical Research. It’s not generally well known, quite complex to get into, and poses as many questions as it answers – either way it doesn’t provide the nice neat soundbites that the media feeds on, so it tends to get ignored except in the blogs of raving loonies like me.

I believe the turn of the nineteenth century saw us on the threshold of a new understanding of the nature of man, but two world wars blew all that away and an era of utilitarian globalization and consumerism seemed to get sucked into the vacuum that was left behind. Technically we’ve advanced beyond all recognition in a hundred years, but spiritually, psychologically, we’ve gone nowhere at all, and when we look at the stuff the late Victorians and Edwardians uncovered, we’re tempted to smile indulgently at it and say – well it was all a long time ago, so it can’t possibly be reliable can it?

Basically, I think the world we can see has a flip-side, and that’s the unconscious plane which, as the likes of Blake and Wordsworth and Coleridge taught us, is a real place that you can visit if you have a mind to, or you can fall into it by accident, through a gap in time like I did in the Newlands Valley.

We’re all connected to it. We have no choice. We are alive, we are conscious, thinking beings, but this thing we call the brain is not the seat of consciousness, more of a one way valve through which a little bit of us is squirted into awareness when we’re born, and which also prevents us from flowing back into the endless ground of being from where we came. But sooner or later, that valve falls apart, we flow back, and we finally wake up to who and what we truly are.

E: So is that a yes or a no to the question of an afterlife?

M: Thinks. Not sure I’d call it an afterlife – more a continuance of being. But the interesting thing in all of this is that there seems to be no structure to the flip side, other than what you give it yourself, by reference to your own belief system, your own desires, expectations or prejudices gleaned from physical reality – that by believing in anything at all, you limit your experience of the flip-side to the point where you can begin to make sense of it on your own terms. It’s a kind of Peter Principle – you know that one where you settle naturally at the point of your own incompetence?

E: So, you’re saying that collectively we make the world what it is, while individually we each get the heaven we expect?

M: Laughing. Sort of. But that’s just the geography of it, and it does nothing to explain the meaning of things at all does it? And of course it’s the meaning that’s the most interesting question, and that’s what I play about with in my stories. I’m not saying any of this is true or that I’ve seen the light. It’s just what I think about and really my guess is as good as yours. It’s simply where I’m coming from. It’s the ground plane for the muddle of things I write about.

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An interview with Michael Graeme. (In Second Life)

Part 1

by Eileanne Odisark

Introduction, Identities, Avatars, Second Life, Transcendent mediums:

E: So,… Michael, thank you for agreeing to this interview, and for allowing me aboard the Rivendale Review.

M: You’re very welcome. I know it’s a bit confusing, but in here I’m known as Cuchulain Graves.

E: Right, of course. It’s a bit of an unusual venue, isn’t it? But other than a real life face to face interview, which would have been difficult to say the least, it seemed the next best thing.

M: Well, yes,… and it has the advantages that my Avatar is much more handsome than I am in real life.

E: While on the downside I’ve yet to find a pair of shoes that fit. Anyway,… being something of a newcomer here,  I’ve noticed many Second Lifers immerse themselves completely in this place, severing any connection between their inworld identity and their real life identity – have you noticed that?

M: Yes. Very much so. It’s an escape for them. And why not? It’s an immersive and creative environment, like playing dolls houses when you were a kid – only they’ve found a way of doing it in an adult way, sometimes very adult.

E: Exactly, I noticed that,… but you used to play with dolls houses as a kid?

M: Erm,… oops,… yes. Why not? It was a long time ago, and my dolls were all men, with erm,… fast cars, motorbikes and girlfriends.

E: Okay,… but getting back to Second life, you see no harm in it? You’re not worried people will lose touch with reality?

M: Well, there’s always a risk people will overdose on anything that’s fun. But which is more harmful? A few hours collapsed in front of a TV soap every night, or a few hours in here? I mean, how close to reality is a TV soap? They might claim to be, but really, the bits I’ve seen bear no resemblance to any reality I’m familiar with. And at least in here things are a bit more interactive, and creative.

E:  Okay, so you don’t think much of TV soaps?

M: Hate them.

E: But, getting back to this notion of immersion, notwithstanding the fact that I spy some bunkbeds in the passageway, you don’t seem to live in Second Life. I mean you do have definite links back out to the real world. These books I see lying around – they’re facsimiles of real world books you can buy on Lulu, or download for free from Feedbooks?

M: Yes. I make no secret my avatar, this avatar, Cuchulain Graves is Michael Graeme, who writes books and stories in real life.  Michael Graeme isn’t my real name either of course – he’s an old fashioned non de plume and that’s another kind of proxy, another kind of avatar, but his realm is very much in the real world. There are layers and layers of unreality here. It’s fascinating.

E: So what are you doing sitting on a spaceship in Second Life?

M: Smiles. Well, for a start, I built this space-ship and I enjoyed doing it. But I’m also advertising my books – not very well at the moment – not many Second Lifers find their way up here.  But I also see Second Life as a transcendent medium of communication, and that’s also very interesting. That’s why I stick with it, to see where it will lead.

E: Excuse me,… transcendent?

M: Yes. I mean it rises above everything. I’m from the UK. You’re,… well, your profile doesn’t say but it could be anywhere in the world,…  but this environment has connected us, brought us together, so we can have this conversation. It’s created this illusion of setting and place, one that we can tinker endlessly with to suit our mood. My avatar’s a bloke, but in real life I could be a woman – and you could be a man for all I know, but it doesn’t matter, it’s irrelevant here. I could be ninety years old, you could be nineteen – in fact you probably are nineteen if my experience of the demographic is running true to form – but in here we all look about twenty five. It removes a lot of the boundaries that ordinarily prevent people from  talking.

E: Okay,…  I didn’t really intend spending so much time talking about Second Life, so while recognizing the playful and slightly spooky nature of this environment, I’d like to peel back those layers of unreality now and surface in that other strange place we call Real Life, if that’s okay.

M: Sure,… and nicely put.

If you’re a Second Lifer, you can find the Rivendale Review ship currently docked in the Volpert region.  Come aboard and have a poke around. Have a chat with my robot muse if you can find her. If you’re not a Second Lifer, you may find it interesting to sign up and wander round anyway, if only to comment on how weird it is. All you need is an e-mail address, and there’s no cost involved for a basic account like mine. To rent land however, and build things on it,  it costs in the region of 50p a week.

My thanks to fellow Second Lifer  Eileanne for the above transcript, and those that follow.

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They say the early bird catches the worm. In the Lake District, it’s the early birds who catch the free parking places. Back in June I recall blathering on about how much I’d had to pay at the Broadgate Meadow car-park in Grasmere (£6.50!!!!) prior to setting out on the Tarn Crag -Helm Crag Horseshoe. (Uber-bliss)

Last week, I arrived at White Moss Common, not far from Grasmere, and paid £5.00 to park  on a slutchy, waterlogged and thoroughly be-puddled carpark, in order to do the classic Loughrigg Round walk. There’s just one free layby you can attempt here – room enough for three cars, just off the busy A591, but you’ll have to be up bright and early to get this one. I managed it once, but it was February as I recall, and before 10:00 am.  So,… on this occasion, at 11:30 am, the waterlogged White Moss Common carpark it was.

I’m shamelessly nostalgic about Loughrigg. It was one of the first fell-walks I completed as a young lad, after venturing up to the Lakes in my old Ford Cortina. My first attempt to conquer the higher and grander fells had ended in disaster, in pouring rain, in breathlessness, and ignominious defeat on Coniston Old Man’s quarry route, one particularly stormy October, back in 1982. The following season, I lowered my sights a little, consulted my Wainwright guides and settled on Loughrigg.

All right, Loughrigg’s not the loftiest of altitudes. At 335 meters it’s something more of a curiosity, set down amid loftier heights – a place from which to point out the grander adventures of the Fairfield Horseshoe, the Langdale Pikes, or the route up the fabled Helvellyn. But to belittle Loughrigg on account of its modest altitude is to misunderstand the nature of fell walking, and therefore the nature of life itself. The Loughrigg Round is, to be honest, a study in perfection. If you are of modest ability it will present you with a challenge of Himalayan proportions. If you are of Himalayan experience you may dismiss it as a pathetic nothingness, and in so doing, miss the point entirely. Loughrigg appeals to the modest. It promises enlightenment for very little effort. And if you are a serious adept, it delivers bliss by the bucketload. How could you possibly resist?

I can’t remember how many times I’ve done the Loughrigg Round. What I can remember though is that each time I’ve been surprised by how diverse the scenery, how beautiful, how interesting, how blisteringly footburningly  far, and how utterly satisfying.


I paid my five pounds, and unlike in June when I walked alone, this time I had the company of numbers one and two sons, who tackled the gradients like a pair of uncaged lions and made me wish I was a little nearer their ages. To be sure, youth is a marvelous thing, unencumbered by responsibility and generally wasted on the young. Me? I’d just spent the week tiling my kitchen floor – which for an amateur of middling senior years, is an excruciatingly painful business (stiff legs, buggered arches, dodgy back), but it saved me a thousand pounds in tradesman’s fees and ensured a better job as well. But I digress.

The weather wasn’t kind.

We managed the fine, trig-pointed summit without too much bother from precipitation – just a glowery grey sky, but thereafter the day became increasingly wet – so much so that my enduring memory will be of full waterproofs, including danger-pants*, and a continual, soaking, persistent downpour, characteristic of this beloved region at it’s moody worst. In other words:  it rained, and rained and rained. There was no respite. And my views of those loftier heights were overhung with steely mists and mystery.

Both sons acquitted themselves with honour throughout their drenching. At their age I would have described the conditions as simply crap and unbearable, but they soldiered round, and at the end of it we laughed – relieved and exhilarated, then blasted south in Old Grumpy, to the motorway services at Forton for a naughty but nice burger with fries and rancid coffee.


*Danger pants – a humorous colloquialism to describe waterproof over-trousers, usually  only resorted to in the most extreme of climatic conditions.

Keep safe.

Graeme out.

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