Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Such a lot going on, such a lot.


I find myself talking to a couple of actors - a married couple, nice people. And they're telling me about how he has to do a parachute jump as part of a film project that they're working on. He strikes me as the sort of chap whose likeliest form of exercise would be the run to beat closing time at the off-licence. I can tell that he didn't wash his hair this morning. She washed her's, though.
Neither of which hair observations are related to jumping out of aeroplanes, but there you go.

We talk about their funding and about timescales. And then, dimly, distantly, I recall:

: I think the strangest thing about parachute jumping was watching the ground get further away through the space where there should have been a door.

: The aeroplane doesn't have a door?!

: No. It felt stable, though - tiny but stable. Bit breezy.

: No door?!

: (to Him) You didn't have to agree to it. Say you've changed your mind.

: Thing is, after a day of training, I had such absolute faith in the people training us, that I felt very few nerves - it was just about doing what they'd said to do. And actually, the movement, as you come down - putting on the brakes - the side-to-side - kind of swinging down in great graceful arcs - even if you were a big ball of fat, it could feel like the most elegant thing you'd ever done.

: (mildly amused eyes)

: (murmurs)

: Assuming the straps aren't digging into your arse, of course. There was one jumper - a woman -

: Yeah. I've heard it can be a bit uncomfortable.

: It's like fastening your shoe laces. Too tight - loosen off a bit. Too loose - tighten up. The whole thing can be fairly profound... I'm not a scientist, but I found the stuff to do with movements of warm air - the thermals that'll lift you right back up as you cross over a heated runway - to be absolutely fascinating. Got to play with the brakes - the toggles - a bit as you're coming down, though - to get the measure of them, to trust them for the landing.

Her: Mm.

Shane: Mm. Wouldn't want to brake too early and go smack-down on your face.

: (frowning) You're not helping.

: (thinks sideways, thinks about this chap being an actor) When I was a kid - through the teenage years, up to about twenty - I hated public-speaking. I mean hated - panic attacks, nausea, no belief. I ended up realising that it had to be dealt with and that only I could do that, otherwise I'd be really pissed off with myself - so I just flooded it. Any opportunity, I stepped up and spoke - I became a Master of Illusion - scared shitless for the first few goes but got away with it - quickly felt the circularity of the whole thing - fake confidence, get away with it, breed real confidence. But the nerves that I had to handle to get through that, I promise, they were off the scale compared to the jump 'plane going up.

: (raised eyebrows)

: (thinking) Yeah, but you see, public-speaking versus jumping out of an aeroplane - there's only one of them that...

: ...could kill y'?

: Yeah.

: Mm. Strange, isn't it. Like I said, the whole thing can be quite profound.

This felt like a rare kind of conversation - one of those where you don't really know the person or people who you're talking to, but you sense that there's something slightly deeper going on - there's a... a puzzled warmth. It felt good. They said I could be in their film.

Okay, so I did ask to be in their film - which isn't cool, but I was joking. I was, really. But they weren't, I could tell. I'm not an actor, I don't want to be an actor, but I'll be in a film - it's something to tick-off. There are more important things to tick-off, but it'll be something.

I'm going to Morecambe tomorrow. I've never been to a Morecambe, before.


Meanwhile... said...


Morecambe was cool until they demolished the Jug of Tea.

Maybe amid the gentrification they are going to replace it with a dainty installation of lapsang souchong. I hope so, darling.

we'll see. Meanwhile...

Anyway, an interesting piece. I used to get all that with public speaking too, or indeed anything for an audience, until maybe four years ago. Not much fun.

Huw said...

Jesus, you people. Do I have to tell you how to do everything?

(Him + parachute jump + nerves) x (Shane + film cameo) = Shane as a body double stunt man.

I am such a problem solver.

LB said...

You'll never go to Morecambe again, so it's all one big circle.

Shane said...

M - The Midland Hotel was cool. When trips to the coast are such a rarity, that cold sea air really does the business.
H - That's science, that is.
LB - For promenade walking/cycling, and breaking out into the hills, I've still got time for Morecambe - though I only really engaged with a tiny part of the town.

PI said...

I so agree you have to tackle fears head on which is why I started rock climbing to cure or address my stage fright (TV rather than stage)
You are very brave to have jumped from a plane. I'm not sure I could do that. It will be interesting to see how you rate being in a film in comparison - although you may not feel stage/film fright at all.
I met Wilfred Pickles in Morecambe. Not one of my happier experiences but at least Mabel was absent. Does it still have the lovely art deco hotel?

Shane said...

P - The Midland Hotel is the lovely art deco hotel. So, yes. I'd confidently recommend it. Very designerish rooms, nowadays - possibly even a bit too clever-clever - all following a massive restoration / revamp programme.