Monday, 8 August 2016

The view from St Nics

(DISCLAIMER: As an overall nice human being, I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offence rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model. )

Make no mistake, what I do is dangerous.
But so are loads of other forms of entertainment and mundane tasks! Take driving, for example. It has a much higher fatality rate than rooftopping and that's mainly because one isn't just thinking about themselves on the road, but what everyone else is doing. And can you truly trust everyone else when the only thing stopping you from a collision is faith in their common sense and a thin line of white paint? Rooftopping doesn't have those risks because one only needs their own common sense and faith in their own abilities. It's only frowned upon because there are no hoops to jump through to get permission.

Ultimately, regardless of if you think humans were put here by a deity, or that we spent millions of years evolving from goop or syphilis, I find it very difficult to believe that we are only here to sit on our bottoms spending the first two decades of our lives being indoctrinated (educated, as it's known on the streets) into a world where success is measured by the size of the number that shows up on our bank account each month and we've got to earn that until the day we're considered too old and useless to serve the corporate machine anymore. That can't be right. Humanity deserves something more. I deserve something more. If I'm guilty on anything, it's of striving to achieve that one thing every human hungers for: Happiness.
I don't want to passively consume entertainment in those safe, sanitized attractions that require an admission fee! I don't want a pre-packaged adventure! I am the architect of my own adventure, and of my own happiness.

So with rooftopping becoming an ever popular sport in Shrewsbury, I decided to take to the rooftops once again, this time to new teritory, uncharted by myself, Tree Surgeon, Rushworth, or any other local rooftopper. What have I left to cover though? I've been to the top of both St Chads and the market clocktower, along with the rooftops of just about every major landmark building in Shrewsbury. What new challenges await?

Well there's that old church by the castle, St Nics, of course!

And who needs to actually bring along a tripod when they get to gaze at this architectural hunk of eye candy? Lets see what the view is like!

 The sunlights really against me in this shot up Castle Street but as you can see, we're pretty high up.

According to my map of Shrewsbury from 1880, this place is the site of the St Nicolas Presbytarian Chapel, and that it had seats for 500 people. Quite how far back the church dates, I don't know. What I do know is that during its construction it was going to have a proper pointy tower but due to lack of funds, it only has most of an actual tower, flattened at the top to make a really odd circular shelf, which was convenient for me because it gave me a platform to sit on.

Today, St Nics is a spa, bar and café. I have to admit, I've only actually tried the café portion, and I did enjoy the food, and also the architecture. The interior actually has very little resemblance to a church now. Reportedly work to convert it into what it is now began in the 1980s became first the Serenity Spa before opening its doors as its current incarnation in 2014. It was formally opened by a TV star I've never heard of, Fearne McCann of "The Only Way Is Essex."

In 2015 there was some controversy about the place, as local residents complained about the noise. This I find difficult to believe could have been in any large number. My source of this information is, after all, the local newspapers who don't seem overly keen on truthful stories. And on top of that, this is Castle Street we're on! It never sleeps! You've got the Vaults at one end, the Yorkshire House at the other and it's the common route from the town centre to the train station. The alleyways are frequented weekly by drunk couples arguing. One time on Castle Street a man who became known as the Trippy Apocalpyse Guy got high on some God-Knows-What and spent three days stood in his window telling the people of Shrewsbury that they were going to die biblically. Someone allegedly reported to the police that he had a gun and was shooting at them, but according to the Shropshire Star this occurred at 2am, and I happened to be walking by when he was arrested at 7:30am. It seems to me that if the newspapers were correct and he was firing a gun at people, the police would have shown up a little sooner. But that's the media for you. Telling people they are going to die is tame by 21st Century standards. Give him a gun. Why not make him an immigrant too? Heck, let's go the whole media hog and say it was Jeremy Corbyn standing in that window shouting at people for three days! Why not? The media and their need for a villain.

But enough ranting! Back to St Nics!

  Look at this view. The library and the castle look absolutely stunning. The weather was perfect for the adventure, and in all honesty, if one knows that they can have this adventure, and achieve this experience, and all it costs is a little risk to myself and a little naughty trespassing, how can I just stay on ground level? When I am doing this, when I am interacting with the world around me in a way few people get the chance to, and appreciating it in all its glory, I have never felt so alive.

Here's a close up of the Castle. It's an ancient symbol of how far this blog has come, because my mobile shots from the top of it as well as my research into underground tunnels that may have led from beneath it, was all featured in the first blog post I ever did that got a a five-digit view count. It was huge at the time, because up until then I was lucky to get a three-digit view count. But my ex messaged me one day saying "You should check your blog stats, because people are sharing it all over Facebook." And sure enough, when I checked, my jaw dropped.

People say that I don't care about what happens to me, but I think my ability to throw myself into life-threatening situations with wild abandon stems from a hyper awareness of my own mortality rather than apathy for it. I don't really have the words to elaborate much on that. I've been to rock bottom and I've come back. It's made me ruthless in that I won't hesitate to cut out people I feel are detrimental to my mental health, without fear of being alone as a result, because I know that I can survive being alone. It's also made me ridiculously caring for those around me because I know what it's like to suffer alone and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But I guess after it all, I've reached that point on the journey that they call "Fuck it." I don't want to say that I live each day like it's my last because that's not strictly true and it's such a cliché line anyway. I think I live each day like it's my first. Every breathe of air, everything I see and hear, and every sensation feels brand new, like I'm experiencing the world for the first time. And I wish I could phrase it better but I think you'd have to just trust me that it's an awesome feeling.

As a final touch on St Nics, the little circular shelf actually has the base of a flag pole on it. Long ago they could have flown a flag from this unfinished tower, but from ground level nobody even knows that this little chunk of history is up here. And this is the sort of appreciation of my surroundings that my bizarre lifestyle has awarded me. I see things that would otherwise go unseen.

Earlier I said that loads of mundane tasks are more dangerous than rooftopping. I used driving as an example. But do you want to know the Number 1 mundane activity that's more dangerous to you than anything? I'll tell you what it is.

Watching TV.

The human organism sits down and watches for the sake of watching, their soul bombarded with the fear mongering and the mindlessness that spews forth from the artificial eye of education. We're made to feel miserable, and worse, here in the UK we pay TV licensing fees! We pay to sit on our bottoms and be made to feel miserable! That is the world we live in! When I told a work colleague that I don't watch TV her immediate reaction was disbelief followed by the question "So what do you do with your time?" It wasn't a question of curiosity, but of confusion. She simply couldn't grasp the concept of living a life free of the mindwipe. TV is dangerous because before you know it, your life is behind you and in spite of all your attentive watching you have experienced nothing. You've gained nothing. You've learned nothing.
If you stop watching, you'll spend a week or so panicing that you're no longer in sync with the world, but then you'll stop caring and you will be happier than ever before.

And that concludes my blog post on St Nics. If my readers could swing by and try their food, their spa or their drinks, I'd love that. I did genuinely enjoy their food and if I can help earn them some money maybe they won't mind so much that I spent a good chunk of my day sat on their roof.

It's an underestimated historical chunk of Shrewsbury, and worth a visit. Probably not in the same capacity that I visited it.

This blog post is only a small one, but I'll follow it up with some underground tunnels as soon as possible. So thanks for reading. If you like the blog, share it on the social media, and also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. And also, to contribute to the adventure fund, which will in time get me a go-pro so that we can take these antics to Youtube, please click the donate button to send me pennies. However, as I say every blog post, money isn't a priority. Far more important to me is that you make someone smile. Compliment a stranger. Be there for someone who has nobody. All this is important because as a species we all suffer similar problems but as individuals we suffer in isolation. Imagine how much weight could be lifted if we were just there for each other.

Thanks for reading everyone! Stay awesome, and keep reading. Next post, I'm going underground!

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