Chapter 6. The Banner

 Suddenly, the fun has gone out of that traditional undergrad wheeze of scaling the spires of Cambridge to decorate them with chamber pots 
 --Daily Mirror, 5th June 1965

One hundred and sixty feet high, Kings Chapel is the night-climbers apotheosis. No night-climber has achieved his ambition until he has stood on the crumbling pinnacles, clutching the lightning rod, gazing in overwhelming awe at the City spread out beneath him. A few seconds at the top has a lifetime of memories to go with it. To conjure up the moment again is to relive the excitement, the temporary fear, the beauty and the wonderment that combine to produce the most wonderful and most indescribable experience that one is ever likely to have in this life. It is a peculiar thing that not only the climber, but also innumerable people who have directed their gaze upwards, must feel. It is in essence a symbol of humanity, irrationalised.

Its pinnacles have been adorned throughout the ages mostly with frivolous symbols — umbrellas, chamber pots, flags, gowns and rubber pigeons. It has taunted scores of people to invent ingenious devices for conquering it, ranging from key-making to firing ropes over the Chapel with bows and arrows. The old route, now blocked-up, comprised a chimney aided by a lightning conductor on the northeast turret. Behind this lies an interesting story.

Soon it would be George VI's coronation, and two climbers conspired to debunk the whole affair. Nares, a Trinityman, and O'Hara, of Emma (two famous night-climbers), decided to put up an effigy of the King on the Chapel. After an original idea had fallen through, Nares went to Woolworth's and purchased a large boiler suit. This was duly stuffed. The plan was to string this up between the NE and SE Pinnacles (those on Kings Parade), with a crown suspended two feet above the head. The dummy was to carry a beer bottle in one hand and a mug in the other. All went well to begin with and the dummy was safely on the roof. The idea then was to haul the dummy up between the spires by means of ropes and a pulley. Unfortunately, the poor fellows forgot one small item — they did not oil the pulley. Never has there been so much squeaking coming from Kings as was heard on that night. It woke the porter. Soon the chapel was surrounded by the college sentinels. The climbers lashed the rope, so fixing the effigy between the pinnacles, and had no alternative but to come down. But they were not beaten yet. Climbers' spirits die hard. O'Hara, a person of immense stature and strength, took control of the situation himself. Reaching the ground, he told Nares to run while he dealt with the porter. A glorious struggle ensued, as Nares sped across towards the backs. Fearing for his friend's safety, he soon stopped and made his way back, only to be confronted by an angry Porter hurtling at him at great speed on a bicycle. Losing his head for the moment, he turned and ran. The Cam was not far away, and he was fished out a few minutes later. He was then escorted to the Dean's room, with O'Hara, who had eventually been overcome. It was 5.00 a.m. What a splendid sight for the freshly awakened Dean — Nares dripping on his parquet floor, and O'Hara, perspiring profusely, trouserless. It was almost certain that sending down would be the punishment — but luck was on their side. Nares was fortunate in having as his tutor in Trinity a well known Christian Scientist, whose congregation, it is rumoured would have been halved by any severe punishment to the Trinityman. So all was well, and the two were rusticated for the rest of the term.

Coming back from rustication in October, Nares was horrified to learn that spikes had been put in the chimney to stop future climbers, and that they were a dangerous and ineffective deterrent. Climbers still attempted the Chapel and there were a few minor accidents. Fearing something horrible, he went to the Dean and offered to make the climb impossible. The Dean agreed with him, and soon large chockstones appeared in the four corner chimneys blocking all the route. It was the only humane thing that he could have done.

It was only recently that we unearthed this story, though when we saw the chockstones we knew at once that only a climber would have designed them. But fortunately, as we have seen, the story did not end there. The chockstones, far from being a deterrent to the Chapel as a whole, gave modern climbers the inspiration they needed. The new route has already been described, and now we come to the story of the “Peace in Vietnam” banner.

At the beginning of the summer term of 1965, there was a meeting to discuss the situation in Vietnam. Everybody wanted action, something positive, and suggestions poured forth. During a lighter moment a certain gentleman, well known in the peace movement, said “Can't you get the night-climbers out?” Bernard, our photographer was at the meeting, and he replied, “Yes, we'll put a banner on King's Chapel.” This was not taken very seriously by the other people at the meeting; the idea still lingered in Bernard's mind, and a few days later, he asked Dave if he thought it was possible. Dave was immediately taken with the idea, from both the climbing and the political sides, but naturally could not give an immediate decision. Their next step was to tell me about it, and over a meal in the Corner House, an excited discussion between the three of us followed. Once or twice, the discussion became a trifle too loud and we got some rather curious looks from a man at a nearby table. I wonder if he remembered, six weeks later, hearing three disreputable looking students saying something about banners and Kings Chapel over dinner in a crowded cafe.

We recalled the abortive attempt to Place a “Save Ethiopia” banner on the Chapel in 1936 and realised that it would be no easy task. A further climb of the Chapel would be necessary before we could reach a final decision, and much thought would have to be given to the design and construction of the banner. It should perhaps, be mentioned here that we were not in the habit of leaving anything on the buildings that we climbed. The sole motivation of our climbing was the pleasure it gave us, and we had no wish to draw attention to ourselves or to inconvenience others by adorning the buildings of Cambridge. We made an exception in this case because the banner carried a political message to which we gave out full support. We agreed that the utmost secrecy should be maintained; Dave and I would tell no one, not even Nick or Brian, who we hoped would eventually climb with us, until the date was near and all the details were settled.

The immediate priority was to see if a suitable banner could be made. Bernard had some friends who had some experience of making banners for political demonstrations and said that he would contact them. A few days later, he asked Dave and myself to come to a meeting with these people, Nick B., George and Chris, to discuss the banner. A War on Want lunch was in progress at the time so we had something to eat before moving to the small room next door to discuss our plans. The main problems as far as the climbing was concerned were the weight of the banner and its resistance to wind. The reasons for the failure of the “Save Ethiopia” banner were that it was very heavy and that the material was such that it flapped very violently in any gust of wind. As a result of this, the banner was eventually torn by the force of the wind. Fortunately, the answer to this problem soon appeared. We could use white mesh material for the banner. This is both light in weight and allows the wind to pass through it instead of being caught by it. Chris, George and Nick B. had used this material for other banners and it had been most successful. The letters would be sewn on in black tape. The measurements of the banner were to be roughly 40 ft by 5 ft. The next problem to overcome was what we were to use for tying the banner on to the pinnacles. Ordinary string might break, and wire would be difficult to manipulate when perched precariously on the pinnacles. Once again the answer soon appeared, in the form of nylon cord this time. This is both strong and light and the only thing we would have to be careful of was to make sure the banner was tied on securely, since nylon cord is rather slippery. It would be terrible to succeed in tying the banner on, only to see it fall because the knots had slipped. This responsibility would rest with Dave and myself.

With these details arranged, we agreed that for the present Dave and I would concentrate purely on the climbing, whilst Chris, George and Nick B. would set about buying the material and making the banner. We were to have no contact with each other until the banner was made and we were ready to do the climb. Only Bernard was to be kept informed of progress on both sides.

Figure 6.1. The “Peace in Vietnam” Banner

The Peace in Vietnam Banner

The “Peace in Vietnam” Banner

The Peace in Vietnam Banner

Close-up of the banner.

The Peace in Vietnam Banner

Press-cuttings of the banner climb.

While we were getting fitter in preparation for a practice climb on Kings the others were also at work. Nick B. had purchased the materials, and these were transported to Girton, where, with the help of two Girtonians, the legend “Peace in Vietnam” was inscribed on the banner. The girl under whose bed the banner was hidden during its construction should also not go unmentioned. It was a risk that none of us would like to have taken.

Bernard was rather alarmed to find, when visiting Girton shortly before the banner's completion, that several girls apparently knew about the banner. However they did not know what was going to be done with it, and Girton is a long way from the rest of the University. All was well.

On May 22nd we arranged for a grand assault on King's though only Dave and myself of the climbers knew the real purpose of the nights venture. We told the others to observe everything about the climb very carefully. It went successfully and it was an excellent night; just what we needed to remind us of the severity of our task.

For the next ten days Dave was doing exams. I finished mine earlier and decided to get myself a little fitter. It was June 1st and we had decided that the banner would go up on the night of the 6th. The day after this was Whit Monday and we wanted to give the crowds of American tourists something to look at. On this occasion, I did not have my klets, and so I went out barefoot. As will be seen I was to pay for this later.

Meanwhile the banner had been made and brought into college. Dave, Bernard and I went to have a look at it. It was magnificent. The time and effort that had gone into its manufacture were obvious. As soon as we saw it, Dave and I knew we had to succeed. The supporting cords had been put in — Bernard had measured the distance by pacing up and down at the foot of the chapel. He must have looked a curious sight. Some thinner nylon cord had been attached for hauling the banner up to the pinnacles, and we listened attentively as Nick B. and George explained the mechanics of the thing. There would be no time to waste on the night and we had to be absolutely sure of what we had to do to get the banner up.

It was now time to reveal the plan to Nick and Brian. We found Nick and told him. His reaction was excellent — “I'm with you all the way”. We could find no trace of Brian, and then to our sorrow, discovered that he had rushed off to Paris, without any warning, to “sample real food and wine” This was his character — unpredictable to every tissue — and we could not be angry, only sorry that he would miss the climb, and that we would all miss his presence. However, all was ready and we could not alter our plans.

It was Sunday 6th June — the banner was to go up that night. As Dave was sitting exams, Bernard and I did all the organising. Besides the three climbers we needed look-outs on the ground to warn us of any danger and to provide help if we had to evade porters. We chose about eight of our friends who we knew could be trusted. Dave, Nick, and I had exeats for that night and we kept well away from college during the day. We had arranged to meet in a flat in Willow Walk after Hall to tell the lookouts what they had to do. They were not to be told about the plan before the meeting, and so Bernard had asked them to come, without telling them what the meeting was about. However, their curiosity, if nothing else, brought them all along, and at seven o'clock we were all assembled and the plan was revealed. I had worked out a signalling system and explained it as best I could. The lookouts in the streets surrounding the chapel were to communicate with us via Bernard and Enid (Dave's girlfriend), who were to be in a high room in Caius, overlooking Kings Parade and the Chapel. The idea was that I would wave to Bernard from the N.E. pinnacle when we were ready to haul up the banner. He would then flash a light on and off — this was the signal for the lookouts to indicate whether all was clear or not. If it was, Bernard would then flash the lamp twice. It it was not, the signal would be repeated at two minute intervals until it was. As it will be seen, this was not quite how things went, but at the time everyone seemed quite happy with the arrangement. We decided to start climbing at 1.45 a.m. and lookouts were to be in their positions a few minutes earlier. With this settled the meeting dispersed. As Bernard left the room, looking particularly conspiratorial in his large donkey jacket and beard someone was heard to say, “Exit Bernard with bomb.” We were all set.

The evening passed very slowly for Dave, Nick, and myself. We were all very tense and we smoked heavily. At about 10.00 we went for a meal, but none of us felt like eating much. We soon left and went back to Willow Walk. Shouts of horror bellowed out — it was raining; for the first time for days. But nothing was going to stop us now. The equipment was at Willow Walk; Bernard had taken the banner there earlier and was now in the Caius tower with Enid. We took the minimum of equipment, a rope, three waist-lengths, two slings, and two descendeurs. In a small rucksack the banner was neatly packed. At last we were ready. It was 1.30 a.m. and the long hours of waiting were over. We were lucky in that Murphy, one of the lookouts, had a car and we were quickly driven round to the back of Clare.

As we came across the backs into Kings and up to the Chapel, we could see Dave W. in one of the lookout positions, watching the porters Lodge from a good vantage point near the Gibbs building. Murphy and Mick were at the north gate of Kings. We had a final word with them as to tactics in an emergency, and impressed upon them that above all it was they who must not panic, as our safe retreat depended entirely on their help.

Warily we moved to the chapel, and began climbing at 1.45 a.m. It had been raining and the stonework, already mossy, was very slippery. Even the first pitch we did badly, owing to nerves and wet stone. We pulled ourselves together at the second pitch. Dave was brilliant: he was going to lead it, and the burden lay heavily on his shoulders. He climbed up very slowly, and as he said to me at the top, he had been a bit too cautious and was tired by the time he got the runner on. What must be made clear is that this route is very severe in dry conditions, and with adverse weather and the nervous situation, it was phenomenal climbing. Nick was next to go up, so that he could sort out the banner on the roof. He was fantastic, though he says he almost came off on the lay-back. Dave, however, assured him that he was not — “Come on you...” The amazing thing was that although he never wore klets or proper climbing footwear he was at no disadvantage this night, for our klets proved no real grip at all, while his strange shoes seemed to revel in the conditions. I remember that it was not a pleasing climb that night — my log book recalls “step out looked huge tonight”, and then “it never was very comfortable”. When I got to the top. Dave and I sorted out the rope, ready for the descent. and Nick laid out the banner on the roof beneath the pinnacles.

Our plan was for Dave to climb the S.E. Pinnacle and me the N.E. We had 50 ft lengths of nylon string attached at one end to the banner and at the other to Dave and myself. Nick, below us, was to make sure the banner came up all right untangled, etc. I tied the appropriate length to my waist length, and began climbing the N.E. pinnacle. I had just reached the spikes, when panic almost struck. A burglar alarm went off, and Dave and Nick who were on the roof could not tell where it was located, as the noise was reverberating from the pinnacles. Fortunately I was well above the roof and realised that it was coming from a long way away. No one panicked.

Meanwhile Mick, the lookout at the north gate of King's had not been idle. Several foreign girls appeared to be in need of assistance in climbing out of Kings and Mick was only too ready to oblige. At another time he was accosted by a drunk who demanded to know what he was doing. “We're going to burn down the chapel,” said Mick. This apparently met with the approval of the drunk who happily went on his way.

Back on the chapel we had both climbed the pinnacles without any difficulty. Reaching the top, I took a sling from round my neck and tried to tie on. It was too short to go round the pinnacle, so I tied on to the lightning rod. Dave did the same. Soon it was obvious to both of us that the signalling system had broken down, but from our positions we had such a superb view of Trumpington Street, Kings Parade, Market Square, and all the surrounding streets, that we were pretty confident that we had the best idea as to whether it was safe or not.

The system broke down because Bernard could not see me waving to him (though I threw my arms about wildly for several minutes). After looking at the silhouette of the pinnacle his eyes could not distinguish anything small — the silhouette began to move and he says “I soon saw people climbing all over it”.

So, after a consultation (we were able to talk to each other from one pinnacle to the other) Dave and I decided to go ahead immediately. We were pretty fed up by then with standing on small holds for five or six minutes. So we hauled the banner up.

The thick cord of the banner was tied at each end to the thin cord we were holding. As we pulled it up the banner got caught twice on the parapet by the ridge of the roof. Had the banner ripped we would have shed tears, not only for our failure, but also for all the people who had spent so much time making it. However, all was well for Nick, performing indescribable acrobatics, managed to free it undamaged on each occasion. The banner was not very heavy and we soon hauled it up. At this point we were both covered with cord — our bodies were covered with the hauling cords, and as we were tying the top of the banner to the lightning rod, we were holding the bottom cords in our mouths. The string often became entangled and, recalling the “Save Ethiopia” Climb again, we were glad to have brought knives with us (on that occasion the unfortunate climbers had to cut through the rope with their teeth).

After securing the top cord, we both moved down about five feet. We were in tricky positions and could not tie ourselves on anywhere. Then we had a few agonising seconds of waiting — Bernard had underestimated the distance between the pinnacles, and, despite an additional 10 feet safety margin, the cord was too short to go round the pinnacles. We both thought quickly and then, quite independently of each other, tied the cord to the lightning conductor, which we prised away from the stone in one place. The knots were secured and reinforced time and again, for we had to be certain that it was put up to stay. Everything seemed all right so we came down from the pinnacles.

We had been on top of the pinnacles for nearly twenty minutes, and had spent half an hour in all on this last stage of the climb. We were so preoccupied during this time that neither of us had noticed the exposure at all. Even when the lookouts on Kings Parade started chatting to a crowd of French people in a big black van, and we thought it might have been the police, we were determined to carry on until the job was finished.

As we reached the roof, Nick came over and shook our hands. This was the greatest moment, as the three of us stood there together, looking upwards, in silence. Unfortunately we could see nothing — the banner was so well made that it could scarcely be picked out at night unless at ray of light caught it. We had no time to lose. Nick had put the rope in position for the descent — it was doubled through the battlements with the two loose ends on the lower roof. Dave quickly abseiled off. Then Nick and I followed together, one on each half of the rope (using the double descendeur technique) counter-balancing each other. We sped rapidly down, and the rope, too short by about five feet, stretched sufficiently to facilitate a quick landing. We had one nasty moment, half way down when Nick's hair became entangled in the rope and descendeur. Fortunately we managed to lift him and untangle it — in any case I had my knife with me so there was no real panic, though Nick insists that he would not have let me use it. On the lower roof we quickly gathered all the equipment together into a rucksack, and climbed down at great speed. It was 3.15 a.m.

We were elated, and after picking up Murphy at the back gate we ran across the lawns towards the backs. In our haste we almost forgot Dave W., dutifully keeping watch on the Kings Porter's Lodge, and unaware that the climb was completed. We all got into the car and drove back to base, stopping in Kings Parade on the way back to see the banner — but we could barely see it. We quickly got changed in Willow Walk and congratulated each other — not least the lookouts.

We could not sleep, and spent most of the rest of the night walking round Cambridge. As it got light we saw our efforts had not been in vain. The letters on the banner stood out large and clear. It was a wonderful sight. Eventually we got tired and went back to Willow Walk to try and get some sleep. Bernard and Enid had to spend the night in Caius, and they walked out at seven o'clock when the gates were opened. Enid came round to Willow Walk (she was sharing the flat there) whilst Bernard stayed to take a few photographs. He came round half an hour later and we greeted him with loud cries of “Got any cigarettes?” (Despite the large supplies we had run out of ours a long time before.) Fortunately he had some left, but they did not last very long.

He told us how, at about 4 o'clock, he had seen a policeman outside King's who, after looking up at the chapel, spoke into his radio set, whereupon, a few minutes later, a patrol car drew up and three more policemen got out. After looking at the Chapel for some time, they knocked up the Porter. “Here, Mate, have you seen your Chapel?” What a rude awakening it must have been for a heavily sleeping porter. They soon realised that they could do nothing, so the police drove off and the porter went back to bed. Bernard said he found it rather unnerving when the police, on several occasions, seemed to look directly at the room which he was in. He also told us how a couple of hours later, one of the first people to see the banner came riding down Trinity Street on his bicycle. As he gazed upwards in amazement, he was temporarily transported to another plane, only to be quickly brought back to earth by the railings round Great St. Mary's which came at him faster than he had imagined.

By this time we were feeling quite hungry and so went to the Copper Dive for breakfast. Everyone was talking about it by now and we felt tremendous, revelling in our anonymity. In such a situation, it was very hard to remain silent when someone makes a foolish statement of conjecture — “How did they get ladders on the roof?”, someone asked — but we managed very well. During breakfast, we decided to write a letter to the Dean of Kings. It ran thus: “We would like to inform you, on the basis of our experiences last night, of the very dangerous condition of the stonework on the pinnacles of your chapel. We suggest that unless restoration work is carried out immediately, the safety of future climbers of your chapel is in grave jeopardy.” It had three main purposes. It was, of course, meant as a big joke. Also we wanted to cause the authorities to worry about the danger, so that they would not allow any attempt to take it down. Finally it was meant as a deterrent to stop inexperienced people from trying to climb the chapel. The press made rather too much of the letter and not enough of the political message of the banner (with one exception), but this was only to be expected.

The rest of the day was spent in the Caius tower watching people's reactions as they saw the banner. These varied from the obvious delight of some to the equally obvious anger of others such as one American who was jumping up and down shouting: “Communists, Communists.” We like to think that the majority of people agreed with the Domus Bursar of Kings who said that “it was a very good climb, whoever did it”.

Later in the afternoon, I decided that it was time my feet had some attention. The barefooted night was having its repercussions. The unenviable task fell to Enid. My feet were in a horrible state — black and sweaty from the nights climbing, and ferociously torn and blistered. Somehow she withstood the smell, and after bathing them, applied great wads of cotton wool and bandaging to them. It was a tremendous effort on her part, and I was now able to walk in comfort. We then set off to the Criterion, where we were bought many drinks by friends who had guessed that we were responsible for the banner.

Meanwhile, Dave W. had been incredibly active. He had informed all the newspapers, and unknown to us, was arranging interviews. The next day held even bigger surprises for us. I get up late that morning, and came into college at about 11.30 a.m. I parked my bicycle in the cycle racks and made my way to Bernard's room. I did not get that far. Dave W. screamed at me from across the court: “Mike, it's the television people,” I was not functioning properly, and his remarks by-passed my brain. However, he soon made his point, and I grasped what he was trying to say — we were wanted for an anonymous appearance on television. Nick and Dave were still in bed and were not resident in college, so we both jumped on to our bicycles and rode like mad to find them. At Milton Road we pulled Nick from his bed and told him we would call back in five minutes to collect him, but at that moment Dave came riding down Milton Road and we pulled him off his bicycle and had a quick discussion as to whether we should appear or not. We did not want any publicity, there were obvious reasons for this, and some of us were camera shy anyway. But there were other considerations. We wanted to set right several misconceptions that had already become wide spread, about the method of ascent, “unsporting” techniques, and other current gossip. But above all we needed money. This was not a mercenary venture, by any means, but we felt we had to reimburse the people who had paid for the banner, and other small items at a time when most of them could ill afford to part with the money. We felt that we should not let this opportunity pass, and so off we went to the Globe.

Len, the barman, greeted us with a pint. We had not eaten but nevertheless it was welcome. Four of us were to appear: Dave W. who did so much organising, besides being a loyal watch-dog, Nick, Dave and myself. B.B.C. Television and Anglia both wanted interviews, but they did not seem to be in a great hurry. The beer flowed for hours. When at last preparations were made, Anglia conducted the first interview. The interviewer, Dick Graham, was to come in and say “Good-evening landlord”, pick up his pint, and then address the viewers. Everything was so lighthearted, that he kept forgetting his lines. Since our glasses had to be topped up each time this happened, we were soon in a hilarious mood. Fortunately, everything want well. Mike Geacock then interviewed us for the B.B.C., and it was a relief to get things over with. However, Dave and I had to rush off to the B.B.C. Studio for a radio interview for the programme “Today”. It was after 5.00 p.m. when we finished.

We all got back to the Junior Combination Room in college to see the television programmes. We were horribly surprised to find that, even with our backs to the camera, occasional half-face shots, and no pretence at disguising our voices, we were easily recognisable. But even more amazing was that we never heard any official comment to concern us, though from one or two remarks it was obvious that the college authorities knew it was us. Our Head Porter, after seeing the television programme, called over Dave W. and myself the next day and said “I was watching the telly with my wife last night, and a programme came on about the banner on Kings Chapel.” He paused for a moment to relive the scene. “Here, I said, They're my boys.” We left quickly for a lecture. And my Supervisor remarked after my Tripos results were out at the end of the same term, “Ho! Ho! not a bad result, M., considering all those television interviews. Ho! Ho!” He was a good natured chap.

However, the whole story is not yet told. Brian, as I have said, was away in Paris at the time, but ran out of money and returned rather prematurely on the Tuesday morning after the banner had been put up. He guessed immediately that it was us, and when I saw him, I confirmed it. This was his chance. The banner had made its impression and would get little more publicity, and the strong winds would, surely, soon break it up? We agreed. “So, I will climb it in daylight,” he said, “with the Domus Bursar's consent, and take it down.” What an opportunity — a daylight ascent of the pinnacles with official permission, we would be the first to cheer him. We wished him good luck as he set out for Kings a staunch English gentleman, immaculately dressed, with a mission to free the Bursar of embarrassment; he could hardly be refused.

Unfortunately, our letter had worked too well for him. The Domus Bursar, while overjoyed at the volunteer before him, was adamant that the Pinnacles were too dangerous to be climbed. But having volunteered, Brian was committed to help take down the banner by any means. He then remembered a trick that had been used before. So, early the next morning, at 2.30 a.m. he was taken up the stairway with a Kingsman and the Bursar, and there set about the operation. The plan was to fire a pellet by catapult over the banner, with a length of string attached. This thin string was attached to a thicker piece and so on. Tied to one of the lengths of rope was a piece of wood, tilled with razor blades, and this was to cut through the middle of the banner. The banner itself was not sewn to its ropes, and would slide off. After much trial and error the mission was accomplished, but at the time of writing the ropes of the banner can still be seen stretching down the pinnacles. Next day the Domus Bursar of Kings told the Press: “I had it taken down very early this morning, and how it was done remains my secret.” This gave us hours of laughter, as we all whiled away the evenings, drinking the crate of fine Amontillado sherry that Brian had been given by the Bursar for his trouble. It is one thing for him to say, “It was a fine climb,” but to donate us a crate of sherry — well!