Wednesday, 7 November 2007


Usually umbrella-shaped apparatus allowing person or heavy object to descend safely from a height, esp. from aircraft. Yes, that’s what the dictionary says about parachutes. I remember the little parachuting things you could get in a lucky bag when I was young. A moulded soldier, with his own little parachute. If Chris would let us, we would throw them out of our bedroom window. Other toys would have parachutes made from cotton handkerchiefs, and they would be tested.
Most people who parachute have two, one spare in case the regular one doesn’t work, but what if the second one doesn’t work? I know the old joke, cross your legs so that when you hit the ground you’ll screw yourself in, then it’s easier to get you out. It’s not the fall that kills you, well, most of it does no harm, it’s just the last few feet, and the pull of gravity.
But what is a parachute? It’s a kind of safety device, like the safety net at a circus, when the acrobats go onto the high wire. Seat belts in a car as well, they are safety devices. I hate seeing people driving around with their kids not belted in, apparently the police can stop the car and charge the driver and standing fee of £25, or thereabouts, for each passenger not wearing a seat belt.
Anyway, back to the parachutes, I love the little parachutes on dandelion seeds. Even now I like to blow at a dandelion clock, and see all the seeds blow away. The part of me that weeds the garden doesn’t like me doing that, but the big kid inside me likes it. And I let the big kid have their fun every now and again.
Would I like to parachute jump? Well, no, not really, seems to me a very dangerous thing to want to do. If we were meant to jump from planes we would have wings. Although I wouldn’t mind paragliding, or whatever they call it, where you have a huge canopy and get the wind to lift you, and you travel on the thermals. I watched someone doing that at Heysham Head one day, it must be incredibly restful. Then there’s the one’s who have parachute like canopies, and surf boards, kite surfers I think. That looks so much fun, I think the thing that makes me like some activities and not others is the amount of control over a situation you can have.
During the war some women got married in dresses made out of parachute silk. Not quite sure where they got their parachutes from, or was it after the war, I’m not sure. If I had a character having their wedding dress from parachute silk I would check up the facts, and make sure I got the timing right.