When I was a kid, I told my mum in no uncertain words: “I’m not going to school today. Spiderman is.”
She said I’d look pretty stupid, walking around all day in that.
But I knew the truth. Hiding behind the fluff of the clouds was the Green Goblin. I had to be spiderman, today, and all the other days. Who else would protect us?
I had equipment, too. A web shooter that’d ejaculate disappointing spurts of silly string. Spy goggles that promised to give the wearer perfect night vision – invaluable if the battle were to continue beneath the stars.
It was a game, really, and the rules were simple. I was spiderman. Spiderman! With his acrobatic web slinging, his spider senses, his gadgets. And it was up to me to save the world from a cackling Willem Dafoe.
After a while, I grew up, and realised that my mum was right – I looked dreadful. By then, I was a teenager, and that meant black t-shirts from redbubble, endless breakouts of spots, and an inexplicable mistrust of hairdressers.
But some things stayed the same, and before long I was knee deep in another game of make-believe. I would cycle to the welsh coast from my front door in the east midlands. Camp the whole way, because if I didn’t… Well, I’d fail, wouldn’t I.
I had equipment, too. Pannier bags for storage, which disintegrated on the first day and had to be patched up using a nice lady’s duct tape. A teensy little tent tied precariously to the bicycle frame with loose hanging bungie rope. A roll mat that was meant to inflate itself, but never, ever did.
The rules were simple. Get on a bike, and pedal. Don’t get crushed by an errant truck, if I can help it. Fight through the aching muscles and sleepless nights and, of course, get my dad to drive down and pick me up at the end.
Only this time, I didn’t call it a game. I didn’t think of it as make-believe. It was an adventure.
I peddled along roaring main roads, bracing myself against startling gusts as lorries stormed by. I wound down narrow country lanes, grateful to let gravity lend a helping hand. I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, and tensed my muscles as I approached steep climbes.
More than once, I swore. Ashamed to say it, really – my grandparents would be appalled. But I swore, at the cloudy skies, the sleepless nights, the weight of supplies I surely couldn’t need, but wouldn’t go without. And I swore at the total, absolute pointlessness of it all.
Finally, halfway up the steep curve of a particularly spiteful stretch of tarmac road, my legs just couldn’t be arsed, and I collapsed sideways into a hedge. It was soft, actually; I could hardly feel the sharp, probing digits of the twigs. I decided right there and then to simply not move. Perhaps I could even take a nap.
Cars slowed as they rumbled past, so that the passengers could get a good look at the boy in the bush. One or two rolled down their windows to ask if I was okay. “Totally,” I said. “It’s actually really cosy. No, honestly!” Eventually, it got a little awkward explaining myself to every passer-by, so I pushed my bike free from the foliage and cycled on.
I never made it to the welsh coast. I got to Oxford, realised I was woefully unprepared, and asked my dad to rescue me. Which, I guess, means I failed. The Green Goblin, free to terrorise the skies.
That bike ride to Oxford was one of my very first adventures, in the sense that I really thought about it as an adventure, not a holiday, or a trip, or a day out. And even though it was small, hardly worth mentioning, really, and even though I failed, it’s still one of my absolute favourites.
Which is the kind of story I hope to share on Borderline Pointless.
Stories of adventure, in all its forms. The things we do, big and small, to tiptoe outside our comfort zones, and engage with the world as best we can.
These aren’t stories of grand achievements and improbable feats. Of cycling the world; reaching the tippy top of Everest; surviving off the land for weeks on end.
These are stories of the weird, wild, and often pretty pointless things we do to make our lives just a tad more interesting – and the problems we face along the way.
That’s the idea, anyway. Come along, and we’ll find out what Borderline Pointless ends up being together.