Out onto the Wellington waterfront and it feels like an under-lit Liberty City, complete with out-of-body camera hovering eight feet behind and above. The only clear difference is the gumbo of fear, sinew, pain and adrenaline that games can still only shadow.
That and I'm not jacking the Harbour Tours helicopter that sits on Queen's Wharf dock by the loading cranes. Pity.
Past the restaurants and Ferg's Kayak rental, gathering speed, hopping along the boat ties and curbs. Swarm up a high lamppost for a minute, then down. The main waterfront section is a kilometer or so of walkway that stretches past corporate buildings, eateries, cruise ship docks, parks and the Te Papa National Museum. This, on Sunday morning, is where Wellingtonians begin to throng: couples walking, kids rollerblading, babies and Blackberries all networking above the tarmac seal.
They turned down plans for a Hilton hotel here last week. Would have interfered with the indoor soccer club. Jumping over the rails by the Events Centre you can feel it - this used to be ocean before the reclamation. We are, all of us, hovering above the ghosts of shellfish and tides.
I can fall just over 12 feet now. The trick is to land on your toes, crumple immediately through your knees, then turn over your shoulder and roll the momentum away. I started with little half-foot plunges and built my way up.
The day I do it wrong it's gonna hurt. Much worse than that rugby ball or even the cricket bat.
Barreling out of old Frank Kitts park, jump-stepping along a line of fastened metal spheres, moving underneath the cellphone towers, over the subterranean broadband lines, cat-crawling along the bridge that covers the young couples in their rented push-yachts ...
Up ahead, before the National Museum, the docks turn a hard left.
In the crook, tempting, high and huge, sits the rusted bulk of the good ship Hikitia with a "Private property" sign beneath its crane.
The crane. It's like man-child Colin Running catnip.
Time to soar like a mighty eagle of stupidity.
Cage Fighting and the Giant, Sweaty Fat Man Incident
Eight years ago, I was under-occupied and, for the first time in my life, overweight. I'd been living in a place where all the food was cheese toasties and all the sports were virtual. It showed.
There was a dingy basement workout room 20 feet below Auckland's Queen Street. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on Tuesdays, submission fighting Thursdays, show up and try your luck Sundays. A bizarre assortment of rugby players, strongmen, genetic freaks and tiny feral bastards who'd go at you like wolverines. All men - women looking for self defense lessons would show for one class and never return.
No one in New Zealand had heard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The great wave of stupid YouTube beatdowns was a long way off. I sweated, gritted, lost weight and gained strength, figured out chokes and holds and how to ground 'n' pound.