The time was Sunday morning, the setting the 1995 Phoenix Festival and the event my first bungee jump. All weekend my friend Chris and I had been watching the squat red crane offload its foolish cargo, like fish returned to the river with the hook still attached. On that morning, striding towards the entrance, we could have been on the way to the newsagent. I only decided to take the plunge after one particularly elegant dive caught my eye. "I'm going to jump," I told a still dozy Chris. "Oh, right," he offered sagely.
The first step was to sign my life away in a series of insurance forms before handing over pounds 30. Then it was off with my shoes and socks and into a harness-cum-nappy arrangement. My legs were bound together, I grimly mused, to stop me splitting apart like a wishbone. As I hopped over to the crane realisation slowly dawned. I felt scared but too trussed up to do much about it.
I stepped into the cage, followed by a gallows-humoured Aussie who attached a fat cord to my legs. The milk-float whir of the crane signalled our gentle ascent as the festival site shrunk before my eyes until I didn't recognise it anymore. A clunk was followed by silence.
The worst was to come - the opening of the cage door. As I forced myself to peer down, a tremendous gut-churning, knee-wobbling sensation told me not to do so again. An elastic band was the only thing between me and a messy death. I clasped my shoulders with both hands, and jumped headfirst in the direction of Warwickshire.
The ground seemed to grow very close, very quickly as I hurtled wide- eyed towards it, emitting an entirely involuntary primal scream. A fantastic rush of relief and adrenaline came on as I was drawn smoothly but powerfully back up, almost to where I'd started. At the peak, I was motionless for a moment in mid-air, going neither up nor down, the elastic stretched out horizontally like a wriggly snake. I dropped out of the sky again, before yo-yoing in a succession of diminishing peaks. At some point my screams mutated into whoops of delirious, masochistic laughter. I was smiling like a simpleton for the rest of the day, glad to be alive after an ersatz brush with death. And it cured my headache.