The Shitty End of the Stick

La Saume.

Large drops of rain hit the earth and I can almost hear the gasp. I sit and watch the rain. It’s the first rain in Cymru for some time. I hope it continues.

It’s been a week since I returned from a climbing trip to the Briançon area of France, where, for three weeks, it hardly rained at all. And in those three weeks I watched the green turn brown, the solid of the mountains turn to dust, the rivers flow to a trickle, the glaciers retreat, the sunflowers wilt, and what is left of the bird population, gasp. Every day was thirty degrees and above, and by taking a ferry and driving, I knew, I had made the situation worse.

I have always lived with guilt, but never enough to stop me doing stuff. I’m not going to go into how I live, or what I do as an individual to try to delay what is happening to the climate and the planet, and life on the planet, I don’t think it’ll help, and it opens myself to people shouting, virtue signalling or hypocrite, or whatever appears to be the go-to attack nowadays, but I have always tried to justify the more damaging aspects of my life (I possibly took two, long-haul flights a year for about 15 years.) by living low impact in other ways.

No matter what we do though, there is consequence, that’s a part of living I suppose, it’s part of being alive on the planet, but also, I suppose, there are levels to how much you consider your individual need and selfish desires are worth putting above other, more pressing issues that affect everyone and every living thing?

It’s a difficult situation we all face, but we can’t stop doing stuff that gives meaning, or inspires, or brings joy to ourselves and to others, else what is the point? But surely there must come a time when we all have to change, and reel it in for the greater good? And there must come a time when we revert to the times when we all lived more local and wanted less?

I haven’t written for a while for various reasons, one being, when I’m not climbing, I’m spending my time building small, low impact sheds to drink wine, procrastinate, grumble, moan, rant, write, read and live out the rest of my days. But the biggest reason for not writing is, with everything that has gone on, and what is still going on; the pandemic, wars, Brexit, people displacement crisis, poverty, the cost of living crisis, the rivers being poisoned by the companies that we pay loads of money to look after them, the energy companies ripping us off, the blatantly corrupt and dishonest Johnson and the Conservative Government (or at the moment, the non-PM and non-government) and on, and on and on, and of course, the climate crisis with all of its knock on… well, to be frank, sitting and writing about what a wonderful life I have, and boasting about what climbs I’ve recently climbed, seems a little trite. Don’t get me wrong, climbing is still very important and something I get a lot of joy from, but as things get progressively worse in the world, and things, including climbing, get even more consumeristic, I just find it difficult to be upbeat and put pen to paper about something that is, in the big picture, insignificant.

As I said above, I know we need a point, and we need inspiration, and stories and meaning, of course we do, but some of it, to me anyway, now appears so far from what most people will ever manage to even dream, let alone afford, it’s crass. I must admit to feeling a tad nauseous when I read of yet another millionaire, or millionaires child, ‘conquering’ the mountains with the damage it’s doing on many levels. It could be just me and my cynicism, but when will climbers start asking questions of other climbers about the impacts of their lifestyles? I can hear you now, ‘well, it’s OK for you, you’ve done it,’ and you’re correct, I have, but I can’t change when I was born, and I can’t change what I didn’t know, or appreciate at the time. Yes, I was possibly ignorant, and yes, I believed some of the lies that were fed to the media about climate change being false, but there is no doubt, we all know about what is going on now?

You could also ask, why does it even concern me, and it’s a good question, because I’ll be dead in twenty years, but it feels crazy, almost psychotic to continue as nothing is happening. I really don’t want all animal life on the planet to die and folks to have a horrible time on the lead -up to their own annihilation. And if you’re young and continue taking no notice, well, that’s beyond my comprehension, because all of this shit is going to hit you full in the face sooner, rather than later, unless people change their attitudes.

Anyway, it’s going to be a month or two more before I’m settled into my very well insulated, low emissions shed, so fortunately for you, there may not be any more writing for a while, but don’t worry, I’ll no doubt take to it again at some point, well, unless the planet burns up, or some lunatic pushes the button, or I just can’t be bothered because I feel a large proportion of us deserve what we get, (Sorry to those of you that don’t deserve it, or have been given the shitty end of the stick by us, the ‘developed’ countries!)


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9 Responses to The Shitty End of the Stick

  1. Angela Paul says:

    I know I’m probably supposed to respond to the article with something relevant but all I want to say is “Love you Nick Bullock” 😀
    That’s all 😀
    Ange x

    • Nick Bullock says:

      You can respond however you want to respond, Ange. And if I don’t like it, I’ll not publish it, in this case, I did 😉 ….

  2. Damien Gildea says:

    Not sure what’s sadder, the state of the environment and our impact on it, or the fact that I’m less interested in Sherpas shagging their rich-kid clients up 8000m peaks than I am in your sheds.

    Is that slab vapour sealed? Is the glue in the particle board an issue? Council permitting for this kind of thing is a real problem here. They don’t seem to understand that if you’ve spent years of your life living in a tent, shitting in a bag, or sleeping in van, a nice warm dry small shed house is a fucking palace.

    • Nick Bullock says:

      Hey Damo,

      I love it when you get involved, no punches pulled 😉 … Is the term shagging used differently in NZ than in the UK? If not, well, that’s put a new perspective on what’s going on up in the hills while sucking O2 and jugging fixed ropes!

      On the serious point of shed building, yes, the whole thing will be vapour sealed. As far as I understand, as long as the company you buy your SIP panels from know their business, the panel is incredibly strong, it’s all put together with heat and is supposed to last for ages as long as it’s all constructed correctly, and here-in lies the problem 😉

      Keep up the good work and telling it how it is, if no one else listens, I do, and it makes my day 🙂

  3. Paul B says:

    You’re not alone in thinking any of this mate. We’re watching helplessly while the world burns and our “elected leaders” sit back and make money. All we can do is bide our time until we can vote those fuckers out and make smart choices when it comes to our lifestyles. Some of us are conscious of our choices and some aren’t and so long as we’re trying to live better then those that clearly have no idea will wake up at some point. I fear it will be too late. Hope the home build goes well and I look forward to more of your writing in the future.

  4. Fran says:

    I feel your pain- it’s so hard to square the circle right now. I too was lucky- I learned to dive on the Barrier Reef when it was worth diving, I skied and climbed in the French Alps from a young age when there were less people and less mechanisation. I haven’t skied for a few years now- the impact of resort skiing is just too high for me…and as for the artificial snow for the winter Olympics???
    Even Outer Mongolia is showing visible people-driven change compared to my last visit 4 years ago.
    What can we do? Live our best life- share the questions and the trials but also the beauty and the reward- because the only way the planet will get saved is if enough people actually understand what it is that they are losing….and they won’t find that out unless they get out off their sofas or unless we shout about it.

  5. Owen P says:

    Wise words Nick. I like the shed, I want one too! Have you looked into Passivhaus? An impressive concept, but I believe more suited to larger abodes. Something we should be adopting in all our homes and buildings. Again lies on quality construction. Which is an issue itself…

    • Nick Bullock says:

      Hi Dave,

      Cheers. Yeah, that shed could be up to Passivhaus standard with a more work, e.g., it would need triple glazing and some other things, but it’s almost there… A candle and a cat should warm it up enough to be comfortable through the winter 😉

      All the best,

      • Es Tresidder says:

        What are you doing for ventilation, Nick? Happy to have ideas bounced off me if I’m not too late and that would be welcome (I’m a certified Passivhaus consultant). Sorry only just seen this and you’re probably well past the time you’d be making decisions on ventilation…

        Hope you’re well.

        Cheers, Es

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