Europe & The Near East 2007

Did Something Stupid

This weekend, I voluntarily pitched myself from a small metal cage, mounted at the head, so to speak, of a massive erection.

It was a singular act of spontaneity. I had not woken up that particular morning with an unexpected yearning to experience the delightful sensation of a gravity-assisted plummet. Nor had I pulled up at the NEC that lunchtime in search of a means to appease a deep-seated craving for the pleasures of high-velocity flesh-concrete fusion. No, by all accounts it was just another day, and I was thinking no further ahead than my sandwich fillings. Smoked ham or stilton? Chutney or pickle?

Fate, however, is inexorable, as a fictional Bernard Cornwell character might slip onto the end of a particularly poignant sentence. That day, it was fate that caused the crumbling remains of the fortune cookie to reveal a biscuity surprise — I had won a bungee jump! As quick as lightning I was fast-tracked through to the signing of a dubiously-vague disclaimer, upon which I left my excited, sweaty mark, and ushered in the direction of the exit with directions floating round my head in a most misdirecting fashion.

And so it was that I found myself with my toes hanging over the edge of the doorway, looking out of a wildly-swinging, wind-buffeted cage and into — well, nothing. There were people far below me, I knew that much. The big green tarpaulin looked decidedly smaller than it had on the ground. And the man with the kitchen-roll had definitely hidden his absorbent proffering from view. I remember looking down on the roof of the NEC. “I’m letting go in three… two…” said the other chap in the cage, who I now noticed was receding upwards at an alarming rate. I had already fallen a hundred feet before I realised, then I was flailing through the air, limbs gyrating, great globules of phlegm spurting at random passers-by.

I wish I had been an observer at this point. As my limp form was lowered gingerly to the ground, occasional spasms showing that I was still in fact one of the living, the crowd became silent. There were no words from any of the onlookers as I shed harness and collected bag and coat. They had just witnessed something rather unpleasant happening to a fellow human being.

“Was it painful?” enquired a girl timidly. I exited the compound, briskly replied and made for the nearest patch of grass.

“…you weren’t supposed to say that…”

Europe & The Near East 2007

Ride Earth

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been putting together a website for the Ride Earth project, in which I aim to mountain bike round the world. More information at

Europe & The Near East 2007

Joining the protest

Andy and I jumped on an early train in order to take part in the cycle protest that was to precede the main marches and demonstrations against ‘Climate Chaos’.

Arriving at 9:40am and with a supposed leaving time of 10:00am from Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a couple of miles away from the station, we quickly hopped on our bikes and swung into the city traffic. No wonder bike couriers flourish in big cities — it’s very easy to get about the place very quickly, if you don’t mind letting slip things like lane etiquette, stopping at traffic lights, keeping off the pavement, etc…

After overshooting a couple of junctions and improvising somewhat with the idea of one-way systems, we rolled up at the rendezvous on the stroke of ten. Luckily things took a little longer to get organised, as is often the case with large conglomerations of people, and it wasn’t until closer to 11 that we made our way, en masse, out onto Kingsway, amidst thousands of tinny bells a‑ringing and horns a‑honking.