After a casual suggestion made to me on a UKC thread yesterday, a new and potentially epic detour to the faltering New Plan has unfolded as a possibility. If you recall, my original post-UEA plan was to work in Norwich for a while, gain savings, then go and live near the hills. This backfired twice due to having spent all my money on a tremendous summer in the mountains, a decision I do not in the least regret, as the Glencoe – Arrochar stomp in July was quite literally life-changing, as was a whole month spent climbing in the Alps.
So the rather more pedestrian New Plan was born, which involved remaining in Suffolk for six months or so and earning money faster (having fewer expenses than I would incur living in Norwich) before starting again somewhere better.
It has now been three weeks since returning from Switzerland. Despite a lot of effort being put into finding a job, they just aren’t materialising; or, at least, the ones that do appear get snapped up before I can react. The problem is the remoteness of my village, miles away from the nearest town, making all but the most local jobs impossible to commute to.
So the New Plan faltered, and I have been spending my time writing and wandering the same old well-worn paths that I explored to death four years ago. I came to realise that it could be a long time before I find anything to do here, and even when I do, it will be simply “a job”, a wagepayer, something I need to do in order to amass savings. In short, my time in Suffolk would be largely limbo. I would not be able to climb, or to visit the mountains that now form the scaffolding and foundations of the person I am today.
However … yesterday a new option presented itself to me, something that solves many of my problems at once and which enables me not only to visit the mountains, but to live amongst them.
There are a number of live-in jobs being advertised in Scotland at the moment. One is at the Clachaig Inn, the legendary mountaineers’ pub of Glencoe, reputedly centre of the Universe and a place where the normal rules of physics (and economics!) do not apply! The others are all in youth hostels, scattered around some of my very favourite places in all the world: Glencoe, Aviemore, Glenmore Lodge. The very idea of living in a place that fires my imagination, with the freedom to climb and wander at will amongst my beloved mountains in my spare time, is one I cannot easily ignore.
The idea of buying a one-way ticket to Scotland and staying there for months at a time also appeals to my sense of adventure. I’ve become so used to travelling and having adventures that it is difficult to adjust to the sheer mundane reality of what people call “real life”. Call it escapism if you will, but I feel very powerfully that if I do not have adventures and experience the world while I yet can, I will have missed out on the greater part of all that is magical and tremendous about life. The philosophy of A.Wainwright, Edward Whymper, and Geoffrey Young has made a big impression on me.
So I am giving serious thought to applying, possibly to the Clachaig, possibly to one of the hostels. In a couple of days I will have made up my mind, one way or another.
In other news, after having a chat with the most helpful and polite people at the Alpine Club Archives, I have an appointment next Tuesday to have a look through the AC’s collection of unpublished journals, letters and other correspondence relating to Geoffrey Winthrop-Young. The AC Library also holds precious copies of Young’s 1899 guidebook to the roof climbs at Trinity College. I hope that my visit to London will yield information about some of the more tenacious problems in my research, such as Sandy Mackay, the exact nature of the original Trinity Night Climbers, and particularly the greatest mystery of all: why on Earth was the friendship between Geoffrey Young and Aleister Crowley hushed up? The circumstantial evidence is too great to ignore, as are the glaring holes in the historical record where I know for a fact that Geoffrey and Aleister were in the same room together and yet neither are mentioned by the other.
Hopefully, by next Tuesday, the great mystery of The Great White Veil might be solved.