Having survived my first ever twitter storm – naturally, I decided that I needed more peril in my life and so I broke one my cardinal rules and took Sam and Paddy quad biking.
Some friends of mine invited me and because Nikki had already completed said activity and route yesterday, how could I refuse and what could possibly go wrong?
En-route to the notoriously dangerous machines, I announced that I was adopting a British Airways approach to the day; namely that safety was my top priority. Unlike on a plane when I give only cursory attention to the safety procedures and even then, only out of politeness, I was all ears for the safety features of these vehicles (there are none btw) and the talk of how to survive using a quad bike (death trap) which for some reason, I had just hired.
…moments later when I rolled the bloody machine sideways off a hill, my life flashes before me. And with Paddy on board, too – meaning that if I do survive this utter disaster, I will need to face his mum on our return.
The details and my recall of this nightmare are scant as adrenalin floods my system but lying on my back with the bike about to roll on to us both, I managed to get my foot on to the under-carriage of the machine to keep it off us and to help propel the evil monster on it’s way down the hill.
Lying now on my back and in thick undergrowth, my mind is a daze (this is not uncommon). Paddy has the good sense to shout out immediately that he is okay – and on this, my mind turns to myself and whether or not I have broken my wrist. It is cut quite badly and I think I can see bone – which I have experience of since my child scooter incident which I chronicled on this site in a previous blog for those interested and also in Eclipsed I think.
After a quick examination, it is apparent that I am in tact – if very shaken and bruised – and by now, the professionals have recovered the wretched vehicle which means that I now have no option but to re-straddle the death machine and continue. Paddy too, must face his fears but now with no confidence whatever in his driver. From here-on-in, my entire focus is on survival only as I sit on the growling best. Next to my left leg, I notice a sticker on the beast for the first time… “Improper use of vehicle can result in serious injury and even DEATH.” The word death is actually capitalised which is unnecessary because I am in no doubt of this whatever.
My wrist is aching and my confidence is shot. I hate the whole experience; only marginally outdone by doing my best opening joke on stage to complete silence.
As I ride along (resentfully) – my attention wanders to the benign fairways where I should be right now. Even in the rough or in a bunker. Or in the trees searching for my bloody ball. Playing golf can be heart breaking but there is little chance of being killed.
And finally, we emerge from the hills and the un-level terrain and my terror finally abates. I have survived. Paddy is okay also; he doesn’t have a scratch on him and so the inquest from his mum will be bearable also.
The man who runs the business looks delighted also as I clamber off his machine and I look to the skies the way a footballer does after he has scored. My friends enquire to the instructor if this has ever happened before?
Never, he says. Sometimes, we get the odd crash. But never as bad as that.
And now for the unexpected upside…
A massive cuddle from Paddy!
Just so relieved to be alive, he hugs his dad tightly. As my youngest and last child, Paddy has had to endure way more cuddles and silliness from me than any of his older brothers which means that he now has a general rule that I am not allowed anywhere near him. And fair enough.
So to have him throw his arms around me is heartening and gratifying.
I thank the instructor and I am sure he is not offended when I explain that he will never see me again because my quad biking days started and ended today.
Finally, a word on my prior hazards this week as the twitter mob rounded on me. I need to report a huge spike in sales of Eclipsed. Not that I can retire or anything. My books sales represent beer money at best but still, the spike is heartening and very welcome. My hope being that if the current crop of new readers of Eclipsed enjoy the book, that they might review it on-line – the book gets noticed and finally takes off and the beer money will grow and be sufficient even if I develop a severe drink problem – which might happen if anyone ever suggests to me quad biking again.
And if this does occur, then the success of Eclipsed or any of my books will down in part to the twitter mob. And wouldn’t this be a beautiful reposte?
And finally, although this post is not so long – it has taken me longer to write than usual. And why? Perhaps because I am still in shock but mostly because I have had to type the bloody thing with only one hand!