Why you should go Urban Exploring
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
There’s been a few times this lock-down I’ve realised that I hate (most) people.
An example is when a group of Neanderthals hung round the streets with their shirts off, blasting music like it was spring break.
They stood so close together they may as well have licked each other’s biceps. Combine that with cat calling, and you get why I wanted to put myself in the bin.
Another time, I saw a group of notoriously ‘fake-homeless’ people screaming at a genuine poor soul – who simply slumped outside a supermarket and took the abuse.
(Before any of you shake your head in disgust and give me the whole “how can you tell who’s really homeless and who isn’t?” – I’ll tell you. Catch them changing from their smart clothes into grubbier clothes outside your office every morning…)
But - most recently - was when my girlfriend pointed out there were multiple families in the back alley that our apartment looks over.
(Bear in mind, this was before the rules were somewhat ‘relaxed’)
They sat outside another building’s main doors, meaning any unfortunate chap or chapette that had to leave would be forced to push through a crowd of – potentially - infected imbeciles.
I’d perhaps understand if one of the families lived in the building.
But there were three cars on the pavement. And three separate families…
They’d come into the city centre, met up, and let their kids loose down a side-street.
My first thought was why – out of everywhere – would they bring the kids to this prohibition playground rather than, say, the park?
I enjoy tetanus as much as the next fellow, but when I was a wee lad, I think I’d prefer a field full of dog poo rather than concrete sprinkled with glass.
My second thought was: actually, scratch that. When I was younger, I spent lots of time around shattered glass.
It’s less tragic than it sounds.
Every weekend, me and my chums would be naughty little chaps and break into abandoned factories or warehouses.
On the edge of the countryside, there was even an old hospital that had a very “climb-able” roof…
It gave us a great sense of freedom, and, for prepubescent boys, nothing can compare to pretending you’re the lone survivors in some apocalyptic event.
I kept up with the ‘Urban Exploring’ well into my teens.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a cowboy. Then a pirate. Then an explorer.
Up until I was 18, I waned to live in a camper van and drive endlessly round the countryside.
But in a world where every continent has been claimed, and every sea has been sailed, what else is there to discover?
Society’s elapsed sites.
Sounds dramatic, I know. But hear me out on this.
If I can’t find anywhere new without firing myself out of Earth’s atmosphere, why not re-find places that have been forgotten?
It’s a bit like archaeology. Except there’s no treasure.
And it’s slightly more illegal.
I remember, there was one site in particular that me and my fellow scallywags would ‘explore’. It was an old factory, slap bang in the middle of our country town – broken windows, shattered doors, collapsing walls and rusted infrastructure.
You get the idea.
At fifteen, we’d even sneak in there with a ‘borrowed’ bottle of vodka or two, courtesy of our parents’ liquor cabinets.
Let me tell you, there’s nothing funnier than when a pissed teenage boy climbs a wall that’s literally falling apart beneath him.
Eventually this monument of rust was torn down by the council. A bit of a shame for me and my chums, but probably best for the community.
And when it was turned into a construction site, this – ironically – was abandoned as well.
At seventeen, I climbed the scaffolding of the great half-tower. Eight storeys up in the sky, dangling above a sheer drop and piles of broken glass, I sat on the steel girders and watched the sun go down.
It would have been better with a bottle of my parents’ vodka, but beggars can’t be choosers.
It’s experiences like that which make urban exploration worth while.
Finding hidden tunnels under the old train station.
Discovering a warehouse in the creepy forest.
Sitting on industrial rooftops above the city and watching, peacefully, as life goes by.
Everyone should urban explore.
At least once in their life, anyway.
Because, unfortunately, it may well be the only real adventure left in the modern world.