I don’t know what it is about watching kids doing parkour that sparks some kind of joy in me. I guess it reminds me that there are still people who crave mental stillness and understand the value of discipline. Or maybe it’s that in the quiet flow of what they are doing, the shabby clothes they wear and their seeming lack of interest in who is watching them, they eschew the culture of constant images that claim to tell a story but actually reveal nothing.
To do parkour well, there is no option but to be in the here and now, entirely focused and alert, like a wild cat. There is no time to think about how you might be seen from the outside. Your only focus is the wall ahead of you. There is no room for error. No laziness of body or mind.
And this show of skill takes place on the sidelines, down alleys and in brown brick estates like mine where there are plenty of walls to choose from.
I love walking home of an evening and seeing a group of young people gathered on my estate getting ready for action. There are no phones out, no loud voices, no cans of coke and no drugs. There is simply a quiet focus. They move slowly away from each other, each one searching for their own piece of brick and then silently begin. I call my kids over to watch. They go quiet, almost as if they are watching something sacred. It is a rare feeling and a good reminder.