This little diamond of plastic was a recreational experience waiting to happen
Saturday 08 November 1997
The transverse struts were slotted into the appropriate retaining pockets. The vertical transverse strut was then bent into a convex contour to facilitate its removal from the retaining pocket because it hadn't first been threaded through the kite tail. (see Fig 1a).
The transverse struts were relocated in the appropriate pockets, and the retaining clips for the two string attachments were presented to the junction points. (A and B).
Reference was then made to the enlarged detail (Fig 2a) indicating the mechanism of the retaining clips. Construction was briefly interrupted by the query of a prospective kite-flier: "Have you done it yet, Dad?"
After the self-evident nature of the reply had been demonstrated, renewed reference was made to the enlarged detail (Fig 2a), which illustrated the method of attaching the clips by means of arrows. Incomprehensible, squiggly arrows.
Attention was transferred to the larger illustration (Fig 2), indicating the method of attaching the kite handles to the - as yet unsecured - string loops on the main body of the kite by means of two other... clip things... located... located...
At this point, Query A - "Have you done it yet, Dad?" - was repeated. Eventually, as I say, after not much more than half an hour's effort, the kite was made ready.
"You're a genius, Dad! Daddy's done it!" I wasn't sure what the element of surprise in this exclamation said about my general level of practical ability. But I let it pass as a mood of gathering anticipation took hold.
With its cheeky, watch-me-fly Mickey Mouse face and long red ribbon tail, this little diamond of plastic was a recreational experience just waiting to happen.
A curious thing occurred in the course of the subsequent test flight. As I dragged the gaudy gift around the field Mickey's face took on another, less pleasant expression - one of derision; perhaps even scorn.
The little mouse seemed to grow ever more delighted as he tantalised with little skyward dashes before plunging repeatedly into the springy turf.
Unwisely, I had read the pocket guide beforehand, taking in the instructions for more spectacular manoeuvres. "Figure eights: pull on left line to loop left, then pull on right line to loop right..."
No more than a soaring fantasy. I was, however, successful in one respect. "When stunting, your lines will become crossed," the pocket guide had promised. I managed to achieve this even before take-off.
The double strings had in fact intertwined with such complexity that they would have prevented the kite from rising in the - admittedly unlikely - event of any sustained flight.
As I bent towards the tangle I was momentarily impressed by my efforts. Now there was something that wouldn't come undone in a hurry, I thought. Better than any of the reef knots or sheet bends which had I had practised so diligently - and so pointlessly - as a Scout.
Perhaps, I wondered, I could patent this as a new knot. The only problem was I didn't know how I had made it.
It took no more than quarter of an hour to untangle the kite. Twenty minutes, perhaps. By the time the twin lines were straight, my children's faces were beginning to take on a distinctly Mickey-like appearance.
But I could feel hope rising, rising with the wind that was now beginning to stir the huge poplar at the edge of the field into fresh life.
There are good times to release a kite. My guide book had helpfully summarised the procedure in a little scale. And I had the feeling that we were at least in a stage two situation - "Wind 4-7 mph. Wind felt on face. Leaves rustle" - and perhaps even at stage three: "Wind 8-12mph. Leaves and twigs move and light flags extended."
Now was the moment. Now was the opportunity. Hurling the plastic high into the air, I raced backwards and felt the string handles tugging. Up, Mickey, up! He rose; he smiled. He nosedived.
"The kite doesn't work," my five-year-old announced with finality. "I'm going to play on the swings."
From hero to zero in 45 sweaty minutes. The genius had been found out.
I am looking now at the blithe words of the instructions: "Practise aerobatics gently, high up in the sky." If I ever get there, I promise, I swear, my aerobatics will be gentle as lambs.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea victory parade mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
Preston fan who appeared to snatch Jermaine Beckford's shirt from eight-year-old boy identified and says: 'the truth will come out'
Danny Ings to Tottenham: Spurs rival Liverpool for £6m Burnley striker
FA ban Aston Villa flag for the FA Cup final because it contains a reference to Arsenal
Manchester United season player ratings: Grading Louis van Gaal's entire squad
- 3 Priest warns pupils the 'Charlie Charlie Challenge' is 'demonic activity'
- 4 Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...
£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...
Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...