Brave leap into a new world

Whilst walking through many town centres recently, I’ve noticed a new trend of young athletic and frankly smug people hurling themselves off walls and buildings.

It’s called parkour, which is French for “don’t break your neck,” and it has smothered the buildings like a muscular, iPhone-obsessed moss.

It is hard enough when it rains on the way home; it’s even harder when a teenager thumps down through your umbrella after attempting a double turn.

However, this time, instead of seeing something new and pouring scorn over it because I can’t do it, I decided that I would give it a go. If you can’t beat them join them. Then beat them if it goes wrong. I have one good-looking, athletic friend. (Yes, all my other friends do hate him and it would be easy to ignore him if he wasn’t so damn charismatic.)

He’s called James, is part of the trendy parkour set and I asked him to help me jump off a building or a cat or whatever it is they do.


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He laughed, of course, and explained I don’t really have the right legs to wear shorts and shades in the winter, but after many hours of persuasion he was ready to take me for my first jump.

It is important to understand that most people who do parkour start off in gyms with mats and pads. I didn’t really have the time because I had to fit it in between James’ lunch hour and endless guffaws so we skipped that bit and just did the theory.

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“Be careful!” That was all I got.

Apparently it’s all in the take-off and the landing. The bit were you are hanging in the air isn’t important right now, but to me that’s the impressive bit.

That’s the bit where, for the first time in my life, I’m going to feel like 007. I can jump and I can land.

I want to be able to do the somersaults in the middle and I want to be able to do them now.

James quietly suggests I get the take off and landing right first; see what I mean? Smug.

I wasn’t sure how high the wall was because I didn’t have a tape measure, but I was confident it was roughly two to three hundred feet tall. I was going to jump off it, become the parkour person I knew I could be, and finally impress my mother with some athleticism.

To be honest just before I jump there is a moment of hesitation. There is a slight panic, some tiny beads of sweat and a man standing next to me leaning against the five hundred foot wall drinking from a can of larger.

Bizarrely I find him quite comforting and his special encouraging words – “hurry up you fairy” – rang through my ears just before I take the plummet.

So there I was. Standing, feet together, knees bent, a drunken man and a smug boy staring at me expecting me to fail. I sniffed, shook my hands and with a swift gulp leapt into the air.

I was waiting for moments of my life to pass before my eyes through vivid mental pictures. There were many different pubs I’d visited, many different bars I’d frequented. Many different licensed caf�s I’d been to all flying through my mind.

As I was falling through the air I came to a slow realisation that I spend too much time just hanging about drinking. I should probably get a hobby or something.

Suddenly it all stopped. It appeared my life was going to flash before my eyes but it didn’t have the time to do so. I had jumped and landed.

James seemed pleased with my efforts. I’d managed to keep my knees bent and rolled when I landed.

I was able to stand straight comfortably and confidently and, of course, I didn’t cry which apparently was something he was expecting. My new drunk friend with a can applauded and I stood straight, athletic and, yes, smug.

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