This year my mum celebrated her 80th birthday by throwing herself even deeper into fund raising activities for The Chernobyl Children’s Life Line, a charity founded in 1991 to support the children horribly affected by the nuclear power disaster. She is absolutely amazing, tireless and may I say, fondly of course, sneaky? I mention this because a few weeks ago I found myself suspended in mid air hanging only by a thin rope; then whizzing around in a small car while being tossed a hundred feet above the ground, all the while screaming my lungs out as I hurtled toward the ocean, all of which was fondly caught on photograph by said mum.
Why the ordeal? Because mum persuaded me to be a ‘buddy’ for the day to a group of children who come to the UK once a year from Belarus for a four week recuperative break, away from contaminated food, water and air. This respite helps boost their immune systems and makes a real difference to their health and lives adding up to two years to their anticipated life span. In light of that, how could I refuse?
But a few hours later, I sort of lived to regret my decision. For I was to be a ‘buddy’ during their day at the fairground. It started off well enough: candy floss, win a duck, toffee apples, slot machines … but then the children spied the rides and that was the end of my stomach as I knew it. From then on it was big dippers, some sort of helicopter ride that not only spun around generally but the individual cars spun too – in the opposite direction 😦 To cries of “Babooshka, come!” I was dragged to the next instrument of torture. The big dipper, located on the very edge of the sea, a hell ride during which I feared more than once an intimate acquaintance with Neptune was imminent. Then on to an obstacle course that involved my height-fearing self bouncing on an inch wide rope to get safely from one landing stage to the next – if you look closely at the photo, on the left (above the pier pressure signs)you might just see me clinging with relish to a landing station pole while my little charges continued to scramble around like fearless monkies born to the task. I grabbed only a brief respite before more cries of “Babooshka, come!” spurred me on to the next round of insanity. Thankfully, a friend’s small son took pity on me and we finished off the day with a nice, stomach settling ride on a merry-go-round.
It was the best fun, though, and the spirit and courage of those children humbled me. In her The Big Green Machine post, Lavada mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt’s edict to “everyday do something that scares you”. Those rides scared the pants off me, but I felt good that I didn’t bottle out. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Next year I want to make it to the second level of that obstacle course.
Loads more photos of the children enjoying their trip are on the charity’s Facebook page.