A year or so ago, a local friend set up a group called ‘Mostly Firstly’. The idea was that each of its members would take responsibility for a month of the year and undertake to organise an activity that most of us would be doing for the first time. I was pleased to join in and it’s been a lot of fun. In the last year I have created cocktails, been taught origami, told a story for the Moth in Shoreditch, attended an immersive theatre experience, kayaked, practiced archery, escaped from a locked room of clues and made my own bacon.
And last week, best of all perhaps, I flew!
To do it I had to throw myself into the top of an enormous pipe, aware that there was only a tiny net separating me from a 100 foot drop into an enormous churning fan.
It was all PERFECTLY safe of course, but I am Not Good with heights (The word “plummeting” haunts my subconscious. I am totally Bambang on the top board at the swimming pool). When I’d signed up for flying, I’d somehow had the idea that there would be a solid floor right beneath me. A brief consideration of the physics of aerodynamics would have shown that to be unlikely, but physics, as my poor physicist academic father would have attested, was never my strong suit.
So when I first saw it in reality, I wasn’t sure whether I could do it.
To chicken out would have been terribly embarrassing so I shut my eyes and jumped. And it was totally wonderful. Not scary at all as soon as I was actually there. One of the more memorable minute and 15 seconds of my life.
We all got a second go with the package we’d signed up for. On this flight the instructor tried to get us to balance solo and steer. It was much more uncontrolled, with a lot of careering towards walls or shameful sinking into the net. Still exhilarating but I felt more aware of the complexities involved; of how much there would be to learn to make it look effortless.
I’m trying to write something new which isn’t stories for Mango and Bambang at the moment (the second and third set of those are done and there’ll be the fourth to start on in early Spring) but it feels rather like that second flight. There’s been a fair bit of floundering and crashing into walls but thankfully this week, moments of poise and fluidity too. As long as I remember to keep my chin up and not look at the churning fan and the void below I might even call it fun.
And if I do crash badly, at least there’ll be pizza. Mostly Firstly are cheese making next month…