Chop, chop, chop, chop it goes. ‘It’s in the trees!’
I like the sound of the police helicopter in the sky, it makes me feel nervous. Who’s out there? Is someone on the run looking for a one armed man? Has a shaven-headed murderer escaped from Dartmoor and hidden in the alley at the back of the house? Does someone know too much and the men in black are out to get them?
I like being made to feel a little scared, just a tiny bit worried as long as I’m in a safe place. I’m the bloke that goes back to the firework that hasn’t gone off, has to go look (from a distance) despite the crumbling rock at the top of the cliff, watches that scary film in an empty house at midnight. Maybe that’s why I can’t ever properly relax. I’m always looking for that teeny-weeny bit of an edge. Of course I’m a scaredy-cat really. I can just about cope with my own shadow, but a shadow behind me and I’m just wanting to run home and slam and lock the door.
When it comes to the danger stakes I’m not even on the radar. I would never walk the wire or even climb a tall ladder up to my very high roof. The other day I was trying to think about the most dangerous thing that I’ve ever done. It didn't amount to much really.
A long time ago I abseiled down the side of a cliff but I was obviously all roped up. Around the same time, I was doing a little free cliff-climbing, no ropes and no spikes, but I never went on the red routes or even very high. I was once up to my neck in water down a pothole and in the dark for a couple of hours but I had a rope to guide me back to the entrance. I’ve even been out on the North Sea sailing at night and been chased by a Russian trawler. But none of these things were really that dangerous and although I was a little scared I wasn’t terrified doing any of them.
If pushed I would probably say that the most dangerous (and stupid) thing I’ve ever done was swimming out to sea in a storm with waves of at least twelve feet high. It was easy swimming out, it took about ten minutes, but swimming back took me over an hour, and when I eventually did get back to the shore I was frozen and unable to stand. There were a couple of times when the waves started dragging me out again and it crossed my mind that I wasn’t going to make it. It would have served me right probably, but somehow I did get out of the water.
These days, my heart’s in my mouth if I get jammed between two lorries on the motorway and on the few occasions that I’ve been on the roller-coaster in the last twenty years I’ve got out of the car shaking like a leaf made of Jell-O. It’s been a very long time since I went out of my way to get the thrill of an adrenaline rush. I prefer my shadows at a safe distance. In books, on the TV, at the cinema. Shadows that I can switch on or off with the flick of a control button or the shut of a cover.
Yes, I’m no risk-taker. But I do like the sound of that helicopter.