I am cautious.
This is a polite way of saying, I am a coward.
I have never been keen on physical jeopardy. There are so many ways of dying that I have no desire to increase my chances by going up high things or crawling through crumbling limestone without a purpose.
I could understand potholing if I was told, “and after crawling through the ribcage tearing, elbow shattering enclosed, pitch black cavities, we come across the vast opening where the underground rock lions live”, but not if it’s “we crawl through ever tightening spaces and, after what seems like days, we get out the other side of a hill”.
Even some stalagmites and stalactites of breathtaking geological beauty wouldn’t have quite enough allure, I think I’d need there to be dragons.
I have never liked any form of spinning thing or rackety coaster that allows my mind to conjure up a variety of images of gruesome death. I know they should be safe and the vast majority of people do not die on end of pier rides or cavern expeditions, but with no hope of heaven in my head, I’ll keep trying to cut down the death risks to those that are most essential.
I did a mini potholing trip on my son’s weekend activity outing. I looked at the diameter of the pipe, rued the day I hadn’t become clinically obese and thus found an alibi of girth, and stood by as the 6 year olds put on their safety helmets.
“I want you to come, Daddy”
And with that, a parent’s fate is sealed. A refusal to partake in crawling through concrete pipes now could lead to a lifetime of my child going through Freudian psychoanalysis.
Actually, it was fine. Uncomfortable, and with one tight squeeze where the angle of turn seemed to require a folding pelvis, but I remembered not to swear.
After the crawl, I imagined a longer potholing expedition or prison escape scenario, where the man in front of you suffered a heart attack and the convict behind died too. Trapped in the tunnel, no way forward and no way back, the man tries to tear the corpse impediments into smaller pieces. He then thinks that cannibalising them will mean he can squeeze through, but with the act of eating, he becomes too swollen.
And it is those kind of thoughts that stop me doing proper potholing.
I had something akin to a near death, or at least witnessing a near death, as a toddler, and it has made me a cowardy custard ever since (that is what my homunculus therapist who lives near my parietal lobe told me anyway). I risk smashing my ego to pieces every night on stage, isn’t that enough. My risks are doing highly unsuitable TV shows when offered them and then fearing Germaine Greer’s derision.
Put me in an MRI for a brain scan anytime, now that I like. And yet I meet people who had to press the panic button. I like the sound of magnets far more than the heavy breathing of crawler.
So I won’t be parachuting for charity quite yet, but I’ll make you a cake if you ask nicely.
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Also, this week’s Manchester and London Dates are sold out, but back soon – at Manchester Dancehouse http://www.thedancehouse.co.uk/whats_on/autumn_winter_2002/event_364.asp and Kings Place, London http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/comedy/lakin-mccarthy-presents-robin-ince-blooming-buzzing-confusion