Another short film! 20 minutes which seems to capture everything about days out on rock. Sandro Gromen-Hayes made it as part of his “Tales from the Wild” series. Here’s his intro: “A glorious day chatting and climbing with the one of my Bristol besties Sarah-Jane Dobner. From trad to poetry to privilege we explore various themes, highs and lows.” Sandro summited Everest a few weeks ago, which rather puts Whitt in Symonds Yat into perspective. His Instagram feed is a feast: https://www.instagram.com/sandro.g.h/?hl=en
This was heartwarming. Ian Parnell published a lot of articles for me when he was editor of Climb magazine, for which I will ever be indebted. Everyone needs a champion and, early on, he championed me. One thing I love in this review is his tally of contents. I’d never counted up the parts of the book myself – as I can’t keep track of lengths in the swimming pool doing a slow breaststroke – but I really appreciate the rigour of it. Also my favourite line is: “One of the pleasures of reading this book is you rarely know what Dobner is going to come up with next.”
The book’s out!
Self-publishing has the feel of a big multi-pitch – intimidating, tricky route-finding, hard graft and a long walk in – but still an epic adventure. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Available at: https://dobdobdob.co.uk/a-feeling-for-rock/
A short Crag Notes piece for UKC about Sennen, Cornwall, on a rainy winter’s day. “Below and to the right is the main fairground. It is shut…”
It took me years to love Portland. So many monsters!
Gunslingers, Part I: Coppola
Dinner at the chippy on Weston Road
Codfathers. Mafia allusions, gangster, tongue-in-cheek
Nod to Francis Ford Coppola
But fish and chips, night after night?
Monday evening. Every pub kitchen shut. No restaurants
Drive through the prefabs and estates, looking for food
And fail. Boil up some pasta and grate on cheddar
Sleep in the van, barely satisfied
Next morning in the lay-by, jot verbatim
The words of a young man to his climbing companion
Can you be fucked with more of these giant ciabattas?
As they pack their rucksacks for Cheyne Weares
A new, potty-mouthed mob. Only a question of time, surely
Before Portland gentrifies. It’s coastal, beautiful
Well-connected with a magnificent climate
But it’s an island, with its own code, and doesn’t need outsiders
The rock-climber’s classic winter refuge. More rock than you will ever eat!
Naranja! Naranja! tres euros, seis kilos
Dutch you? English? juice eat – yes! – these – juice!
you try – take, take! tomates? green, red?
this – doesn’t matter! – medio kilo? lekker, lekker!
She proffers tissues for our sticky orange-hands
but I’ve already wiped mine on my trousers
Ha! where wife, wife? she mimes – slapping the
air-husband who smears his shorts whilst always insisting
on wearing white. Siete euros cincuenta. We pay and turn
then hear her call – Venga! two huge, yellow suckable lemons
hitched up at breast-level – then! guttural laughter –
she drops them lower – offers us, gratis, sour fruity balls
A couple of short poems made it to the Winter 2019/20 edition of Sheep Breeder magazine. They are starting up a poetry competition! Send all sheep-related poetry to the super-friendly email@example.com.
Do you relish the butter-melt of a baked potato? The feel when each crystal sticks, minutely, into the whorls of your tips? An article about sensual joys, and the creep of machine-like regimes.
Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Where desire and grief seem one and the same.
Peat (Skinidin, Skye)
Usually the earth is hard
I’m used to this
Where I put the past behind me
But on the Islands
Reach into the peat and
Your hands slide down through
Spooky. The undead
Exes and myths
Clasp my wrists
From the black water
Gogarth as the best theatre on earth. Poems and chunks of prose:
Head West, always. As the Joad family in Grapes of Wrath or Otis in Dock of the Bay. Adventurers, pioneers and runaways. The dreamers and desperate. Years ago, hitch-hiking the deserts, flagged a ride with New Jersey kids jumping bail. Headed to California. Drive West. Leaving Llanberis, light rain closing in on the windscreen, peppering the glass. Not forecast. But there it is. Nature of the mountains. Keep driving. Roundabouts. A bridge, squat and self-promoting. Irksome to the island, one would think. Centuries of the Menai Straits thwarting casual visitors and conquerors. Drive over. Look at the state of the tide. You’ve checked online. But seeing it, the mud or gleaming water, confirms the iPhone’s information. Drive on. Through the town. Beyond all conurbations. Beyond fields and into heathland. Sea beyond the passenger seat. Sea ahead. Only sea, and the end of the track where the road runs out. The Western edge of Wales. Crumpled cliffs, high cliffs, red cliffs, yellow cliffs, mud cliffs, crystal cliffs, lichen cliffs, loose cliffs, clean cliffs. It’s all there. You can reinvent yourself, out West. Be whoever you like. Be who you are. Start again, each time, and hope for better results.