Die Nachtkletterer von Cambridge – Parkour 1937

Das hier ist fan-tas-tisch! Ein Buch aus dem Jahr 1937 über Studenten, die Nachts auf den Universitätsgebäuden herumklettern. Mir ist da eben die Kinnlade auf den Schreibtisch gedonnert, weil man sowas wie Parkour oder meinzwegen Freeclimbing allgemein eher mit neueren Zeiten verbindet. Aber dass die das schon vor 70 Jahren gemacht haben – und bei Nacht! Whooohoo! – relativiert zwar nicht die völlige Grandiosität von Parkour, aber eben schon seine Neuartigkeit.

The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a book written under the pseudonym "Whipplesnaith" about nocturnal climbing on the Colleges and town buildings of Cambridge in the 1930s.

"Whipplesnaith" is apparently a pseudonym for Noel Howard Symington, although the book is the work of several contributors. One of them, Eric Wadhams, a choral scholar at King's, either took or was featured in most of the photographs. The book was originally published in October 1937 by Chatto and Windus, revised in November 1937 and was re-printed in 1952 and 1953. The second edition contains a re-ordered selection of photographs and a missing diagram explaining the escape from the roof of Marks and Spencers.

The book is now highly sought after, especially in Cambridge itself where it is still regarded as one of few "guidebooks" to the routes onto the roofs of the town's ancient buildings. Famous climbs documented in the book are the ascent of King's College and St. John's' College chapels and the "Senate House leap", together with many photographic plates. (Wikipedia)

Und genau dieses Buch gibt's komplett online, inklusive jeder Menge Fotos, und es liest sich wie der Club der toten Dichter als Parkour-Läufer, ein Geheimclub von Jungs, die Nachts dem blöden Campus-Alltag entfliehen und auf den Dächern von Cambridge herumklettern. Ich finde das so dermaßen faszinierend, auch wenn ich damit möglicherweise alleine bin, und bei diesen Zeilen ist mir wirklich eine Gänsehaut über den Rücken gelaufen. Ich liebe das Internet!

One autumn day some years ago we were slowly walking through Cambridge, in despair at our utter inefficiency. There was no taste in anything. Nothing was so easy but was too difficult, the lightest task was too much effort. We had just missed a supervision because it had seemed too much trouble to walk across the court. Life had sunk to a stage of sitting vacantly and waiting for the next meal. A complete and permanent tack of interest had set in. Something drastic was needed.

Summoning the last vestiges of mental energy, we vowed to do the hardest thing we could think of. lnstead of failing, through lack of interest, in the multitude of things that had grown so tiresome, we would come back to life, not quietly, but with a gigantic achievement as a kick-off. It was the only hope. With something like this behind us, the effort of living would become easier, and the successful effort would embody itself in our character. But what was there that we could possibly find to serve the purpose? It was the darkest hour.

At this moment we looked up and saw the spires of King's Chapel. Here was the answer. Though we had known the fascination, we had always felt a strong fear of heights. We had no qualification, mental or physical, for the job, except a strong desire not to jellify into permanent unconsciousness. If we could do it, we should recover. Thus we started night climbing.

Link zum Buch (via Rocketboom)