How the Turntables – V3
I’m new to this whole grading thing, first time in fact. Desperate times call for…
I must prevent myself from becoming a vegetable. When the time comes I must be ready to hit the wall again at full speed. Strength training takes care of this, but why do I enjoy bouldering? What separates it from other forms of exercise? It’s the problem solving. It’s seeing a bunch of different holds on a wall, and inventing corresponding movements with the intention of being higher off the ground than when you started.
It’s a feeling I only get at the climbing gym, or 30-60 minutes into a rave. It’s a feeling I discovered when I sent my first difficult climb¹, and from then on I’ve chased it. Each time finding it on a harder climb. This is why I boulder. Also because I can’t afford climbing equipment. But where do I find this feeling at home? How do I maintain that equally important muscle, the brain?
I don’t have a climbing wall in my house, nor do I have one in my garden. But what I do have in my garden is a table. Reddit introduced me to the wonders of climbing from on top of a table, underneath it, and back round to the top. Had I been praying, my prayers would have been answered.
I would attempt to climb the shortest distance of the table first. Laying face down, I edged myself off the side. I hung there for a moment, head inches from the ground, getting a good look at the grubby underside of the table, the contours of which I’d have to acquaint myself with in order to successfully execute the climb. Ready to go, I release my feet from the other side of the table, and fall to the floor.
There is a plank of wood in the middle of my table that sticks downwards, dividing the rectangular table into two squares. I grab this with my left hand like a pinch hold, and my right hand goes to the side of the table opposite the pinch. I lift myself completely from the table, and slip again. Wooden holds are hard enough, but who can hold their weight on a pinch?
The table is about a meter across. I can just about reach the other side, but I can only get to the lip of the table – another pinch. I reach for the lip, and go for the same hold with my right as last time. Instead of lifting myself off the table, I twist my body. Left leg comes off the table, and the right goes flat on its side. Left foot moves to the inside of the lip, creating tension which holds me off the ground. I adjust the grip of my left hand, so my fingers now hold the top of the table, then swing, and match with my right. This movement pulls my right leg off the table, joining the rest of me in the Upside Down, now matching my left foot. I lift my left leg off the hold, up past my shoulder and on top of the table next to my hands. The trio of limbs work in unison to lift me gracelessly back to where I came from. A wave of joy and surprise overcomes me. I found the feeling.
Not exactly a free solo of El Cap, but it’s sumthin.
How the Turntables Extended Cut – V4
I returned to the table a few days later, having thought about the upcoming climb each night before I went to sleep. The familiar occurrence of going over a route whilst laying in bed awake was welcomed back into my life with open, achy arms.
How the Turntables Extended Cut, is a slightly more demanding climb across the longest length of the table. Not for the faint-hearted, but I was willing to give it a shot. The principle is the same, but there’s more shuffling involved, and your body is more cramped on the way up and down, as the legs of the table here are closer together.
I appear to have left the feeling on the table after the last climb, because there it was waiting for me. It’s slightly different than at the climbing gym, because unless you’re tackling the problem with a friend, there’s nobody waiting at the bottom with a pump to inflate your ego. Here, Nina ran at me cheering and gave me a hug. It’s a less confusing feeling, there are people around you clearly indicating what you did was cool. Surprised again at myself, but not confused. Certainly not humbled.
Tables aren’t just for climbing
These strange circumstances deprived my life of the challenge and engagement that it fed so much off. The consequent search for a new challenge, meant I must look within the bounds of my own home. The ordinary must become extraordinary.
Writing involves a lot of reflection. Sure, I enjoyed the moment, but is it worth writing about? This scrutiny led to a greater appreciation of the table, as I brainstormed ways to link my story to everyday life.
Have you ever heard anybody say, “gee, tables are great, hooray for tables”. Everybody praises their beds, their chairs, and we all greet the fridge with a smile. But tables, tables are the unsung heroes of the household. Tables host meals, games, meetings between friends, after work drinks, you name it.
So let’s hear it for tables, and to celebrate, some of my favourite table memories…
The family table in Croatia – about to enjoy some delicious clear soup, which starts off most dinners.
Liv’s garden table – 4:20 4/20
3 Points Bar table in Faro – On the left you’ve got me (English) and Lucas (Brazilian), I met him in the hostel the first day of my trip, this is the last day, and we’d spent the whole time together. Georg (Portuguese) in the middle, he’s the hostel owner. He said he’d stopped going out with guests because he ended up drinking too much. He makes exceptions on the weekend. The girls on the right I can’t remember their names, but one was Spanish and the other was Colombian. We’re all from different countries which I find pretty cool, and Lucas could speak all of our languages which made communication easier.
Ruby’s mum’s dining room table – We were having a gingerbread house making competition. You don’t get to see ours because Alfie put the milk in front of it.
Dinner table at Lucas’ favourite bar – Lucas never left Portugal after I left him, so I went back to visit during one half term. We drank here every evening, and this is the family who owned the bar. One night we we’re just chilling outside, and they started laying the table for dinner and said we were to join them. We shared a massive tray of clams that Grandad back there had caught earlier that day. It was one of the cutest moments of my life and I am eternally grateful for their hospitality that whole week.
The old garden table – Every Easter we have an egg cracking competition, where we boil and dye eggs, and hit them against each other. Each egg has 2 lives, top and bottom of the egg. Eventually we are left with just one egg, and the holder of this egg wins. In the end though, winner or loser, they all get eaten in an egg salad.
Amsterdam hostel table – This table was the centrepiece for our home that week. There were 14 of us, idk where everyone else is, all packed into bunk beds that surrounded this epic table in the middle. Perfect room, had it to ourselves, only thing was – now this is slightly fucked up, no windows in the room. This played into our hands when going to bed as it was always light out when we hit the hay, but meant our bodies kinda had no idea what was going on half the time.
Rando table outside a cafe – It’s like 6am in this photo, we haven’t been home all night. We’re in Athens, waiting for the first tube back towards the hostel, sitting at this here table, when an angel of a man comes out of the closed cafe with a jug of water and a cup. Says nothing and walks back inside. What a hero.
Table at the Cork – Ruby’s watch says it’s waterproof. She went to the toilet. We covered her watch in condiments. Consider yourself pranked.
House Home – Teeks and Flatty
Nero’s table – Farewell to Bea before she went to Tanzania
Did I get carried away? Maybe, you can be the judge of that. So to wrap up, keep finding new ways to do the things you love in these turbulent times, and tables r cool.
- Video of me doing the hardest thing I’d climbed at the time on insta
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