As a boy, on November afternoons, when I tired of watching raindrops sliding into one another on the school window, I used to calculate what age I would be on the 1st of January 2000. The answer was 40, a sum so large as to be meaningless. Given that a November day at school was essentially infinite, how could I comprehend the many thousands of such days that would be required to bring me to 40?
Of course, the earth began to turn a little faster with each passing year, until, like the untethered astronaut, I floated beyond the known universe, and was thrown up on the strange shores of the Third Millennium, a place where time is hurtling towards a dead stop.
Sometime in 2005 I realised that a Svengali had published "the List" and I took my vows (but not without a little resistance -See... http://mountainviews.ie/motleyviews/general/comment/109/ .) Being neither a celibate nor an immaculate conception I had commitments to both forebears and afterbears: this prevented me from walking as often as I would have liked. A couple of years ago, my youngest son asked me how many mountains were there on The List. Then he asked me how many I generally climbed per year. He frowned, but not for long because he is good at sums, and said: "But Daddy, you'll be dead". By which he meant that I was unlikely to live to see the last mountain on the List.
So let me spell this out as plainly as I can. I have to fight to get out on the hills occasionally. Until I fell among you lot it had never occurred to me that there might be a reason to get ALL the high hills of Ireland under my hat. But I'm one of you now. Bitten by vampires. And my destiny is to struggle on as a Walking Undead. Please don't tell me that I am breaching your Code of Honour because I try to pack as many hits as possible into the short time I have left. I have no other option. That is why I am wedded to the notion that the best day out is the one where I have cunningly calculated the maximum number of hills possible in the time allowable and given the frailty of my finite carcass.
(May I add that I greatly appreciate the kind words of Simon3, Conor74, Geo, Aidy and Bleck Cra, the latter being the very first man I would call upon if manure needed urgent stirring)
PS simoburn has just logged a stunning track (2454) that will raise new levels of concern that the roses are not being smelled: Length:37.9km, Time: 10h31m, Ascent: 2565m, Descent: 2436m
Places: Shanlieve, Eagle Mountain, Slievemoughanmore, Pigeon Rock Mountain, Cock Mountain, Slievenamiskan, Butter Mountain, Ott Mountain, Slieve Loughshannagh, Doan, Ben Crom, Slieve Binnian North Tor, Slieve Binnian North Top, Slieve Binnian, Slieve Binnian East Top, Wee Binnian. Please tell me that he's twenty.