The phone rings, which is a rare occurrence these days, as I'm always on Skype, Googlechat and iChat. Even more unusual is the fact that it's the house phone, not the mobile, a phone we only have as we need the line for our internet connection.
I answer, half expecting my mother (her being perhaps the only person to use the land-line number, except people from a call centre in Bangladesh), but it's a friend, and unsurprisingly given the method of communication, one from a slightly older generation.
He's a writer, my friend, and a bloody good one, and a good climber too. He collects climbing guidebooks and mixes his reading of them with speech writing for politicians and editing for various business magazines. He also reads, and posts on, UKClimbing.com.
So, as you tend to do on the phone, we chat.
“Have you seen the latest issue of Climber?” he asks.
“Yes.” I reply, thinking he will mention the little story written by Streaky Desroy, about me backing off The Black Cleft. I rally my army of excuses, ready to outflank his blitzkrieg of good-natured ridicule. It doesn't come.
“Did you read the Jim Perrin article?” he asks.
“No.” I reply. These days I'm more likely to be listening to Odub's rap at Deadpointmag.com, than reading Jim Perrin in Climber Magazine. “But it was a great cover shot.” I add with a smile, jokingly and subtly suggesting that he'd bought the magazine for the half-clothed cover star. (Which he had).
“Uninformed Krapulous Comment” he says. “That's what he calls UKC.”
“Oh, ” I reply, “that's not very nice.”
Later, I get around to reading Jim Perrin's column in Climber, and he does call UKC names. But perhaps his derision is over shadowed by his praise, when he exclaims that several of his “aged friends” have developed an “addiction” to the site.
His opening paragraph details Stevie Haston's recent sport climbing success (UKC News), and later his piece commends Alison Stockwell's superb video of Nick Colton (UKC Article).
I think about emailing him with a long list of our recent quality editorial, and perhaps a barrage of user stats (in a Mick Ryan forum-stylee). But it's late on a Thursday evening and I've got a bouldering session to get to.
As I turn off my computer I glance over my desk, mentally ticking off the daily jobs and notes that have spread themselves over the cheap beech laminate top. My eyes rest at my land-line telephone.
I pick it up and in a slow unfamiliar way, I dial a number. It's my mother's, as hers is probably the only one I know off by heart.
“Hi mum, it's me.”
“Oh, hi love. This is a pleasant surprise. Ooh, I'm glad you've called - we're having trouble with our webcam...”