Brian Viner: 'If I was going to jump out of a plane, I'd avoid Friday 13 and Halloween'

Share
Related Topics

Our 16-year-old daughter Eleanor announced to us a couple of weeks ago that she intended to do a sky-dive in aid of a Hereford-based charity called Concern Universal. We blithely assumed that this was a vague ambition for sometime in the middle-distant future, but then she casually added that it was all fixed for 31 October. Now, if I was going to jump out of a plane then there are probably two dates I'd avoid: Friday 13, and Halloween. Yet she is resolute. In fact she'll probably ask if she can carry a broomstick, just to make the pictures better for her Facebook page.

Jane and I, meanwhile, are torn between pride and anxiety. It doesn't seem all that long since we were diligently strapping her into her car seat, and now she's going to plunge 13,000ft from a plane. Concern Universal is a fine charity, but among the extended family there is universal concern. Sixteen seems a bit young for this sort of thing, one of her grandmothers mused, but then last week's Hereford Times carried pictures of 90-year-old Maggie White, who recently did a sky-dive, wearing her mother's 1927 flying helmet, to raise funds for an extension to her Quaker meeting house. If intrepid nonagenarians can do it, then why not intrepid teenagers?

"I'd do it again, perhaps not tomorrow but maybe next week," the redoubtable Maggie White told the Hereford Times, and I have a feeling that one sky-dive won't be enough for Elly, either.

She has also expressed an interest in bungee jumping, which one of her friends did in Australia and loved, although just as he was taking off into thin air, the guy supervising the jump said urgently, "hey, wait a sec, mate, I'm not sure you've got your fore-buckle properly fastened ... oh no ... " It was just a wind-up, of course. There isn't even such a thing as a fore-buckle.

When my father-in-law reported for his first day at a south Yorkshire colliery 60-odd years ago he was sent to the workshop for a long stand, and there's no such item as a long stand either. He was made to wait in a corner and after 45 minutes reminded the bloke why he was there. "Aye, tha's 'ad tha long stand, tha can bugger off nah," he was told.

I'm all for daft little practical jokes like that, but imagine "oh no" being the last thing you hear from the man in charge of the elasticated rope as you throw yourself off a bridge. Maybe the moral of the story is to go bungee jumping anywhere but Australia. I have a nightmare vision of Elly somersaulting into the void after laughing at a Crocodile Dundee-type for telling her she isn't properly attached to the rope, and then him turning out to be the one Aussie without a warped sense of humour.

Whatever, it seems that we have raised an adrenaline junkie, with every chance that her two younger brothers will follow in her slipstream. After all, our youngest, Jacob, was only two years old when he performed a nose-dive out of a restaurant window, 40ft above a beach in southern Spain. He's 11 now, but I still get sweaty palms when I see him at the top of a high stairwell. Or anywhere above ground level, really. In the summer we walked across the Pont du Gard, the remarkable Roman aquaduct near Nîmes, and I had to fight the urge not to grab a fistful of T-shirt. Good parenting, it sometimes seems to me, is a triumph of sense over impulse.

But then there's parenting, and there's parenting of teenagers. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then teenagers are from a different solar system altogether. In these rural parts, with public transport provision somewhere between negligible and non-existent, most kids can drive before they turn 18. And there is, alas, a commensurate number of accidents involving teenage drivers. A friend of Elly's wrote off the family car only last week, but she loyally insisted that it was no reflection of his driving, that in fact he's a very good driver.

"I'm sure he is," said Jane, soothingly, "but you have to admit that he's not very experienced." Elly would admit no such thing. "He's really experienced," she said, indignantly. "He passed his test at the beginning of the summer holidays." Our anxiety over the sky-dive will seem piffling, when she first takes off down the A44.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Supporters of New Democracy wave Greek flags during Antonis Samaras pre-election speech.  

Greece elections: Where does power lie? This is the question that ties the UK to Athens

Steve Richards
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project