Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze (Without a Net)

It's odd, having spent my whole atheist life trying to work out how the world REALLY works, to be told I don't appear very adventurous.

The definitions change. This next generation seems to think it is daring to go to Australia - scuba diving (say). They set off with a return ticket (!) travel insurance (!) a line of credit (!) and a pre-booked hotel - to go diving with highly qualified (!) insured (!) trainers, and then return to swap adventures and photos with co-workers, who went to Africa to take pictures of lions on an organised safari tour. It all sounds about as daring and dangerous as crossing the road to me.

But I am old fogey. Don't get me wrong - I am glad my mate recently got an insurance payout from Equity insurance when he hurt himself training; I am glad for both performers and audience that some insurance firm is now betting 'it will never happen' with their public liability insurance cover.

It's just that to be told you're not very daring when you have just spent 40 years without a return ticket, without travel insurance, without personal injury insurance (we're not talking my negligence here, but not being able to find any insurance people willing to take the risk!), without savings or credit or pension or inheritance to come - and as often as not swapping dangerous skills with people who may not have been 'qualified' - I learned fire-eating in Mexico, tightrope and trapeze in London, tumbling in an uninsured space. I did stilts and unicycle with people I trusted - and that was the best I could hope for. I chose my own teachers on trust, and they did me proud. I enjoyed it all, and I am still as on the edge as I ever was. I am not bragging - MOST people on the planet depend entirely on their wits, their friends and family, or the kindness of strangers. Very few are part of the card-castle of mutual cover that the middle class and the rich offer each other, here. I FEEL as though I am in the majority (planet-wide), but in a serious minority here in the 'safe' world.

Anyway - here I am ranting in the small hours again - just for being told I am not very adventurous. Macho rankling, like the Monty Python sketch "When I was a boy, we were so poor...." "They don't know they're born..."

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