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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Not Air Ballooning

I didn’t go hot air ballooning yesterday. This may not sound that remarkable. There were many other things I didn’t do yesterday. I didn’t do any lion taming, I didn’t go to Canada, I didn’t drink a pint of my own sick. The difference is that I had an appointment to go hot air ballooning at five o’clock in the morning and fully intended to see the sun rise whilst standing in a wicker basket inches away from a flame thrower. However, it was cancelled. For the third time.  Each time has been because of ‘weather’. Each time it has been different weather and one of them I am convinced the pilot just wanted to sit in the sun and eat an ice cream.
It is getting to the point that I feel quite confident that I could be a hot air balloon pilot. There is no actual flying involved, you simply have to leave a message on an answerphone saying that it’s been cancelled. I could do that.
I am possibly being slightly harsh and I am still very much looking forward to our rescheduled flight. Weirdly, although I am terrified of flying, I have no fear at all about being in the air in a basket. It seems quite a gentle way to see the countryside and bimble about. Of course I’d imagine that it could turn nasty quite quickly if a huge gust of wind got you (I suppose that’s why they cancel so many flights) or if the bottom fell out the basket (I suppose that’s why they make you tell them your weight). But unless it’s Richard Branson related you don’t here much about hot air ballooning gone wrong. There’s certainly no ‘Hot Air Ballooning’ disaster movie genre. Perhaps this has lulled me in to a false sense of security.
Imagine how differently we would view things if there was a series of ‘Balloon!’ films. They’d certainly be easier to cast and be able to be made on a much smaller budget. ‘Snakes on a Balloon’ would be thirty seconds long as the offending snake could simply be picked up and thrown over the side of the basket. In turn this could lead to the sequel – ‘A snake fell out the sky and landed on me’. I honestly think that the worst thing that could happen in a balloon would be that you haven’t worn enough warm clothing. Which, given that they cancel flights if it’s not a perfect 22 degrees with no wind speed and no moisture in the air, is unlikely to happen.
Whilst we’re on the subject, please don’t take time out to send me the details of all the horrific things that can happen in a hot air balloon. I really don’t want to know. I have to get on a plane in 3 weeks and I am already wetting myself about that. I don’t have the time for another fear. I am too busy writing the screen play to ‘Snakes on a Balloon’. Set deep in the heart of the British countryside, balloon pilot Samuel L Jackson gets the shock of his life when he actually has to pilot a balloon (the weather conditions being favourable). But this is no ordinary flight. There’s a grass snake on board. Samuel and his three passengers have to decide what to do as their balloon flies dangerously close to the M25.

It’s a winner. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Heatwave! A proper, honest to God heatwave. Not our usual four days of 18 degrees and we start putting fire warnings out but a solid week of temperatures around 30. Peaking at 38, which was slightly unnecessary but if you’re going to do it then you might as well do it properly. It also meant I was able to sit in a park at 9-30 at night, not freeze and see a beautiful sunset. 
Not that everyone else thinks that we are doing it properly. Australia launched the slightly saracastic hashtag #prayforLondon as they mocked us for issuing advice on how to deal with the heat. Apparently in 38 degrees they don some Uggs, wrestle a dingo before heading home to eat hot soup under a duvet. It possibly escaped their notice that they are built for heat in a way that we are not. Air con is more of a novelty than a necessity here. It’s also a bit rich coming from people who think 19 degrees in winter is cold.
We also didn’t really help ourselves. We had the obligatory pictures of people jumping in the fountains at Trafalgar Square, of an over crowded Brighton Beach and the Daily Mail telling us we were going to die and issuing screaming headlines telling us that London was ‘Hotter than Johannesburg’.  Well yes Daily Mail, it’s winter there.
I’m sure we’ll all calm down soon. But lets enjoy it’s while it’s here. Let’s just all drink a bit more water while we’re doing it and I’m sure we’ll be fine. It’s probably best to ignore Paul Gascoigne’s tweet: “ If you know of any old people try&get them out the house today as some might find it hard to breath indoors plus try to check there ok xxx” That’s not a thing. I admire the sentiment and would encourage you to check in and get to know your elderly neighbours, but please don’t drag them out of their cool houses and in to direct sunlight. It won’t be appreciated.
It’s also best not to do what I did either. I headed to the beach with thirty thousand other people (we weren’t all in the same car) and got stuck in traffic. Whilst sweating away in the car I decided to drink two litres of water. Just to let you know, drinking gallons of water in a traffic jam is not a good idea. And no, if you put the windows up and try to make the water ‘evaporate’ out of you, it won’t work.

However if you are heading to the beach this summer can I make a recommendation? Take my book with you. It’s not out in paperback and can be purchased on amazon. Do it. You might regret it but I won’t. Buy the 'Joy of Depression'
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