Never Look Down, James Kingston

Even if you don’t regard yourself as being afraid of heights, a natural instinct for self-preservation probably kicks in when you’re confronted with a drop that is beyond your comfort zone.
As a youngster I spent a lot of time climbing trees, and dabbled with rock climbing and mountaineering as a teenager, but my ability to stay calm when faced by a precipitous drop has become reduced as I’ve got older.
For James Kingston, the reverse is true. As a child he was afraid of heights, yet he has become one of the world’s leading exponents of free running, exploring places that most of us are happy to regard as off limits. Places like the top of the Wembley Arch, the Eiffel Tower or tower cranes stretching hundreds of feet into the sky.
Never Look Down tells the extraordinary story of his development from a troubled Southampton schoolboy to an urban explorer par excellence. The skyscrapers and other tall structures of our cities are his playground.
The first thing that strikes you about the book is the astonishing photography. Just looking at some of the images is enough to give you sweaty palms. Views that show James on the very top of some of these buildings with nothing more than a pair of trainers from slipping to his death. Rarely can a selfie-stick have been put to more dramatic use.
It’s hard to believe that James will have a long career at what he does. If he doesn’t have a terrible accident, age will surely one day catch up with him and reduce his undoubted athleticism. For the moment, though, he seems to make a living by starring in films about his exploits.
The book is an intriguing look at a world that most of us, apart from the security guards whose job it is to keep people like James off these tall structures, know little about.
Just don’t leave it lying around if anyone you know suffers from vertigo.

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