At the centre of my childhood home was a staircase. Not one of the elaborate kind, just a brown, carpet-covered, twelve step staircase, with a hallway on each end.
We’d play on it for hours. Jumping off higher and higher points. My older brother could leap the entire distance – I don’t think I ever managed that. We’d slide down face-first, face-down, we’d vault the bannisters.
My father taught me two valuable lessons. One, he said I should climb the stairs in twos. I’m not sure why this was important, but I’ve done this ever since. From a couple of steps run-up, I can easily fly up in twos, threes, or even fours.
I take the London Underground escalator in twos as well, enjoying that satisfying moment of airtime the additional speed of the escalator gives you when you hit the peak.
The other lesson was that you should tread lightly. Even when hitting the stairs to climb four in one go, your step should be virtually undetectable. I can imagine why he thought this important (probably not the noise, actually, he was always just worried about us destroying his house).
I love moving without making a sound. To this day, I take my shoes off at the door, and move soundlessly around my apartment in socks. I avoid the squeaky floorboards. I step with the ball of my foot first. My heel touches the ground, but doesn’t take my weight.
Try it now, it’s actually quite fun. And harder than you’d think.
You have to walk confidently – no tiptoeing around the place. Learn your floorboards, your squeaky steps, and like an obsessive-compulsive approaching a crack, you go around.
I do the same outside the house. My shoes are Nike Frees. Maximum comfort, minimum noise. It’s a different walk, the placement of your foot is quite different. I stroll silently around the office, while others rattle the furniture as they stomp past.
Of course, it’s not without problems. At home, I scare the living daylights out of my wife on a regular basis. I now have to announce my presence as I approach: “I’m coming, I’m coming,”. I wonder what our neighbours think of it.