Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Wednesday Mornings

So, what do Wednesday mornings mean to you? I would imagine it involves an early start and sixteen impossible things before breakfast, juggling children and domestic tasks or suited an booted swelling the rat race ranks at the local station. Done it, been there, got the t-shirt (and wrote the screenplay!). Until four years ago when given a brief lull between teaching and parental commitments, I picked up that faded clipping from the Meet and Greet section of the local paper that I'd been hanging on to all those years, and headed to the local outdoor pursuits centre to meet the 'Women's Group' as it was known then. They weren't a group of enthusiastic lesbians, as the name may have suggested, but ordinary women who have gone on to support and inspire me through all they do.

There had to be a first time 'though, and mine was high ropes....

Outside it was a cold October day, the river was still and birds wheeled over the freshly harvested fields. We assembled under a structure that looked like a homemade substation. Telegraph poles reached into the metal grey sky, steel wire strung between, suspending planks, poles and knotted ropes that looked impossible to traverse.

I was trussed up with the rope; my neck craned upwards, barely paying any attention to the knots or the technique that are now familiar. As a first timer it was my prerogative to go first and I was told to start climbing. I looked down at the small woman belaying me, and wondered if I could trust an absolute stranger with my life. Throwing sanity to the wind I climbed the pole quickly, hands gripping the staples and eyes fixed on looking up, imagining it was just a ladder. It was only when I reached the top and the miniscule ledge that I realized how scared I was. A long pole stretched out ahead of me, with a steel wire strung overhead, I had to walk across it to get to the other side. My body was reacting in panic, and I just wanted to get off, but that would mean climbing down again, I was stuck. There were shouts of encouragement from down below. I imagined them to be the roar of the crowd, and I was a circus performer in spangly costume (I didn’t know there was a trapeze coming up) and took a wobbly sep forward. The smell of sawdust and the roar of the crowd filled my head. Even if it was muck spreading in North Essex and chat from the women below, it got me across. I was encouraged to see others climbing up too, and their coaxing and support got me through the next few hours of fear.

Sadly, I have to work for the next five Wednesdays, it does get in the way of a good time this wok lark. But I'll be back for more adventures soon.

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