Beer talk….

“No, just look at it will you!  It’s at least a fifth smaller than the right one.  Hell, if my right bicep is Arnold Schwartzenegger the left’s Kylie Minogue.  My training must be wrong or I’m doing too many right handed undercuts or I’m a freak.  No, don’t laugh!”  Perry grins and takes a big swig from his pint, “Same old story Brian, you’re always fretting about something physical.  You’re the only climbing hypochondriac I know and a ridiculously healthy one at that.  Even if the left bicep is half the size, it’s still twice as strong as my whole body put together.”  “But what if I want to have a go at Master’s Edge?  That’s all left handed.  I won’t even get past the shot holes before my left forearm inflates like a balloon at a kid’s party.  It’s not fair, I’m a freak of nature and I blame my parents….”  “Oh, leave it will you!  We’ve all got to overcome our handicaps where climbing is concerned, we’re none of us ideal specimens are we?  It’s like cycling.  Not all of us can have a resting heart rate of 34 like Miguel Indurain or pedal all day at 90 rpm like Lance.  Same way as not everyone has an ape index of +9 like Neil Bentley.”  “He never has!”  “Does.”  “No he doesn’t, you just made that up.  Anyway, don’t give me all that cycling crap. They’re all freaks, it’s one of the entry qualifications for getting your first road-bike.  And sporting excellence isn’t all about physical prowess, look at you.  Weak as piss and yet with a combination of sheer determination and mincing footwork you get up stuff I can only dream about.  I put in all that work and you still kick my arse.  It’s just not fair.”  “Oh, bless, he’s jealous of the world’s weakest climber!  Never mind eh, at least you can drink me under the table, get up in the morning and still pull on.  Now that’s what I call unfair.”  “No, unfair was bringing in this bloody smoking ban in pubs…..”  “What!  You don’t even smoke!”  “Yeah, but I used to and I liked the passive smoking…”  “Think of the improvement in your stamina though……”  “Next thing you know they’ll ban drinking in pubs coz of the binge drinking…”  “No, too many MP’s are piss ‘eads, it’ll never happen.  Eh oop, here comes Jerry.  Alright Jerry?”  “Ooh, ‘ark at you!  ‘Alright Jerry old mate.’  Just like best pals.”  “Well he did stroke my dog once at the crag and I chatted to him at the wall years ago.  Nice bloke.  Shame he’s more interested in his golf handicap than E-points now.  He used to be the man….”  “And he didn’t go in for daft haircuts either.  What was all that dreadlock nonsense about eh?”  “Look at Hilda, she’s bloody flexing again.  I hate it when she does that, it’s so unfeminine.  Twenty across.  Hyperbole.  Yeah, she doesn’t have to demonstrate her muscles, they’re pretty bloody obvious.  Women climbers eh?!”  “Shouldn’t have given them the vote if you ask me, next thing they’ll be demanding equal pay.”  “Still, nice pecs..”  “Oh, I don’t believe it.  Captain PC stooping to such blatant sexism!”  “The French are sneaky you know, they’d just mutter ‘bel balcon’ under their breath.”  “Bel balcon?”  “Yeah.  Nice balcony, get it?”  “Oh, yeah!  I’m still offended though.”  “Shocked?  You’d’ve been more offended at Stanage the other week.  Another idiot top-roping Archangel.  Couldn’t make the move once let alone 17 times, polishing it to fuck.”  “I thought you had to do the move 18 times minimum?”  “Never mind that, what about the bloody principle?  Top ropers should be shot.”  “Bit extreme isn’t it?  How about making them listen to Girls Aloud CDs for twenty four hours straight?”  “Or giving them reverse liposuction and making them real fat?”  “Or banish them to Southern Sandstone….”  “Yeah, them and climbing wall route setters….”  “Bastards to a man!”  “And anyone who uses poff on the Grit,”  “Scum!”  “And Headpointers!”  “Whoa there, I’ve headpointed.  It’s not that bad.  And besides, we all have skeletons in the cupboard, surely even you.”  “Nah, the past’s a foreign country dude.  You just look back and think, whoa, how’d that happen?  That wasn’t really me was it?  It’s a landscape of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises, a stranger’s history. Better to believe in the future, a promised land of no compromise and no failure, endless summers, no bad elbows or dodgy runners.  The future’s perfect dude while the present’s tense, an exercise in forgetting all those plans you made only an instant before.”

“Christ, what brought that on man?”  Perry swirls the dregs of his pint, ghost of a smile on his lips.  “Oh, I read it the other day in an old copy of Mountain.  Another pint mate, or are we training tomorrow?”