Do you remember when you used to get dizzy for fun instead of it being a hazard of getting up from the chair too quickly? What were we thinking of? And why does spinning around and around make us dizzy? Even though the Earth is spinning all the time it doesn’t cause us to reel about like a drunk. Going around and around a racing circuit in a car doesn’t make us fall over. Even sitting on a fairground carousel doesn’t often leave us grasping for invisible handholds in the air just to find our balance.
It’s a localised thing. I remember at the park when I was a boy that getting dizzy was the thing. There was a few ways you could do it. The slide didn’t do it, that just made you want to pee yourself with fear because it was so tall. Nor did the long scary-smiled rocking horse with handles and seats for eight or nine children, that just made you feel sick with the up-down motion of a landlocked sea. Of course the swings were a different matter. You could sit on the seat and wind the long chains around until they were tight as a spring, then lift your feet and off you would go in a clanking whizzing spin, then back again and back again - clockwise then anti-clockwise - with a guaranteed result of extreme dizziness when you fell off and tried to stand up.
Of course in our park,
in Thame, there was an old wooden roundabout exactly like the one in the picture,
although that isn’t it. The - not at all child friendly - slide behind it is almost as high as the one I
used to climb too. We piled onto that roundabout pushing it around with one leg
and clinging on for dear life. It would get faster and faster, the girls
sitting on top and clinging on for dear life too. We would pedal it so fast that it felt like we were going
to fly off and we’d work it for ages, the park a blur of green and brown as we span. Then
we’d leap off and try to walk. Of course that was impossible and sometimes the dizziness
would last for minutes. Why we laughed as we stumbled around on the cracked
concrete (no rubberised floors back then) and falling over and over I have no
idea, but we did. Elms Park
So why does it happen? Basically it’s an inner ear thing. When you spin for a prolonged time the hairs in the ear get used to the spinning and when you stand still they continue to send the spinning message to your brain. But who cares? It was fun and I wish that I could still do it today without fear of broken bones and concussion.