Sunday, 3 June 2007

Fly Boy

Last year my daughters clubbed together and bought me a one-day gliding course for my birthday. I finally got round to taking the course yesterday. That's my glider and the instructor (leaning on glider) in the photo. It turned out to be a very interesting day and left me puzzling over my own mental make-up. In the end I declined the third flight and I'm still analysing why. I think it has to do with my attitude to risk. I think that I'm very risk averse. I've done some things that some people would consider risky such as packing in a very secure job to go freelancing. I'd quite happily disappear into the mountains on my own too but both of these things to me were/are low risk because I do my homework first and make sure they are safe. The freelance market was very healthy and I have a lot of experience in finding my way around in the hills and always take emergency supplies.

With the gliding I decided that there were just too many safety factors outside of my control. The flights were in fact lessons not simple joyrides. It was like your first three driving lessons except in 3-D. The sky was full of other gliders and the tug aircraft: above, below, left, right, in front and behind. It was like the Battle of Britain in silent slow motion. Also, despite the hot weather the thermals were hard to find. Comments from the instructor like "We've not got enough height to get back to the airfield" don't help when you're trying not to put the glider into a terminal tailspin. So I decided not to take the third lesson on offer. I felt obliged to because my girls had spent (too much of) their hard earned money on the course but ultimately I knew that they'd not want me to go up just for that reason alone.

Ever since then I've been wondering about what makes me tick and why. For example most sports that don't involve a significant amount of graft don't do anything for me. I've never taken to any form of motorised sport (because we never had a car when I was growing up?). I'd rather do cross country skiing than downhill. I'd rather ride a pushbike than a motorbike. Even then I don't like haring downhill out of control. I use hand hedge trimmers rather than electric trimmers (and I have far too much hedging). I'd rather handwash my car than stick it through a car wash (at least once a year). I sometimes think I was born 50 years too late. Having said that I think we probably did lead a 1930's lifestyle being fairly hard up in the 60's. I think that that is at the root of all this. Because we didn't have anything when growing up I probably subconsciously regard any luxuries as extravagance and anything not earned is not worth having. I'm not sure what all this is telling me. I dread to think what it's telling you!

I reckon I've had a fairly pensive week so far. I'll get over it soon I hope. I've certainly not had a fairly high mileage week. Apart from my long run on Monday and a short run on Wednesday I've done naff all. I'd intended to do a long road run today but went out last night to the aforementioned Rod's (see previous post) and indulged in too many but very nice red wines. I've been dehydrated and hungover all day. What a waste (although I did get to finish Everest the Hard Way. Must be nearly thirty year since I last read that). I'm now officially on the wagon until the evening of September 8th (Jungfrau day).

Going to check out the new office in the morning. No showers and an extra 10 miles on the M25. Lovely.

Chocks away!


Tiny Tim said...

Hi Mick,
Thought I'd leave a couple of comments (as you asked for them!)
The risk thing is odd. What you say about being uncomfortable with the things outside of your control makes sense, especially when you're unnaturally hanging hundreds of feet in the air in a metal tube - but it must be quite a fine distinction between taking risks that you've minimised (eg your disappearing into mountains on your own)and not taking what's essentially an optional risk, at all. IE You've found the level of risk that you enjoy, and it's somewhere below the level of playing russian roulette but above the level of no risk at all.
And while I'm at it... whoever told you that downhill skiing didn't take much graft, and come to that, I don't think you'll find many F1 drivers that you'd beat over 1500m!! (You've only got to do a couple of endurance karting events to get a feel for how fit they need to be).
Having said that, I am (as you probably know) largely with you, in that I enjoy 5-a-side, squash, cycling and running a lot more than snooker, darts and dominoes; I also like to trim hedges and lawn edges by hand, and on the rare occasion I wash my car (which is NOT the same as anyone on the apprentice!) that's by hand too. I don't think it's really money related - though perhaps if your parents were very rich you might not know how to do some of these things - but for things like washing the car, I do it by hand because I'll make a better job of it than a machine (or a spotty teenager in a garage or supermarket car-park etc.

Mick said...

Hi Tim! Thanks for the comment. Good point about the skiing and F1. Perhaps I should have also added something about simplicity as well (i.e. not needing a lift/piste infrastructure or a multimillion pound 30 man team behind you). The two words parents and rich in the same sentence don't compute. Which, I might add, I'm fairly pleased about. Keep the comments coming.