/ Al Alvarez RIP

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The Jazz Butcher 23 Sep 2019

The author of one of my favourite climbing books of all time "Feeding The Rat" has shuffled off this mortal coil.



Postmanpat 23 Sep 2019
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

A regular at Terry’s Festerhaunt at Harrisons in the 70s. To be honest I had no idea who he was at the time. When I discovered, my Eng Lit peers at university were a bit disbelieving. Feeding the rat?  Great book .


Mark Kemball 23 Sep 2019
Mick Ward 23 Sep 2019
In reply to Postmanpat:

When Phil Kershaw decided to go straight and dragged himself to college, his oh so snotty Eng Lit lecturer just wouldn't have it that Phil was a drinking buddy of Al's. In this pillock's Eng Lit hierarchy, Al was at the zenith, he was half-way down and poor Phil was at the very bottom. Thankfully real life isn't like that and, in the climbing world at least, we all muck in together, with no airs or graces.

With his Oxford first in English, Al Alvarez could have been a don, taken the easy way through life, done the square root of f*ck all that matters. But, to his everlasting credit, he made much sterner choices. And we are so much richer as a result.

A fine man - by any standards. Yes, rest in peace. You've deserved it.


In reply to Mick Ward:

Mick, slightly off OP, I was bouldering near the Cowperstone at Stanage, and occasionally a gust of wind would bring the unmistakable sound of a saxophone being played at full belt. Driving back to Sheffield on Ringinglow Road, I found Phil Kershaw in the car park at the top of the moor playing the sax having been booted out of the house by his missus for making too much noise. Haven’t seen him for a while, but that sax used to be a regular ethereal accompaniment to climbing on Burbage west.

Mick Ward 24 Sep 2019
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Oh, wow, Paul, what a brilliant tale! I can just imagine Phil, with that deep, lugubrious voice, giving it, "What - me? Making too much noise?? That's not noise, that's..."

Somehow I suspect that Alvarez would have commiserated and given a wry chuckle.


Anotherclimber 24 Sep 2019
In reply to Postmanpat:

I sometimes chatted with Al at Harrisons in the 70's and, like you, had no idea of his importance within the literary world.  He didn't spout on about it. On one particular Sunday he turned up at Isolated Buttress with an extravagantly stocked picnic hamper.  It was his birthday and all present were invited to dig in.  A lovely and typically generous gesture from a lovely man.  The last time I saw him was in the Dolomites, just down from a climb, his Whillans harness almost losing the fight to fit around his comfortable girth.  Pipe in mouth he looked as happy as a pig in muck, doing what he wanted, just as in his professional life.    

The Jazz Butcher 03 Oct 2019
In reply to All:

Thanks for all the great little anecdotes.


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