Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Day of the Skydive


Most days I am woken with kisses, hair pulling, or a cruel combination of the two. Today, I was woken by the sound of my underused alarm. At 6am, I crept out of bed without waking ebony, and scurried to get ready.
At 6:25am, I pulled pyjamas over ebony's warm, sleepy head, and carried her to the car. The assumption was, that by waking her up so much earlier than usual, it would guarantee a sleep-filled journey.
This didnt work, and despite being woken three hours early, ebony was bright and cheery on the journey to Lancaster.


After months of anticipation, the day had finally arrived for laurie's skydive. In my pre-Ebony days I worked for a fantastic charity called the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS for short), and Laurie had (been) volunteered (by me) to take part in their fundraising skydive.
CAPS campaigns to end the use of tigers in circuses, to stop people keeping monkeys as pets and to stop zoos culling adult animals to make room for the crowd-drawing baby animals. Through undercover investigations, research and expertise, CAPS works towards a world without cages.
Their most recent campaign, the kind of campaign that has on occasion forced me to wonder whether I made the right decision to stay home with Ebony, exposed the wide spread practice of pinioning to prevent captive birds from flying. These birds who, to most zoo visitors, appear free to leave at any time, are in fact mutilated at a few days old, to prevent them from leaving the zoo (and the paying crowds) behind.
Laurie was due to jump with a group of CAPS fundraisers at the Black Knight Parachute Centre in Lancaster. In true Laurie-style, we discovered at 11pm last night that, because he hasn't bothered to read any of the skydive information in advance, he was not prepared for the event. He didn't have a medical form or any gloves to wear. We also discovered that if weather conditions were bad, we could end up hanging around at the centre all day which didn't sound much fun with a 19 month old.

Places on the day were allocated on first come first served basis, so we decided to be prompt. I think this is the first time we have ever left the house on time without an argument.
After some waiting around, Laurie was called up to go in the first plane load of jumpers. We caught a quick glimpse of him in his be-wedgied jumpsuit before he boarded the plane, and then he was gone. Ebony has only seen planes in the sky before, so it took a while for her to understand that the "byar" (car) in a nearby field was actually a plane.
About 10 minutes later, we started to see teeny tiny people flying through the air. It was impossible to tell which one was laurie, although I was pretty sure he would turn out to be the one heading in the wrong direction. The tiny dots grew bigger, and it became obvious which was Laurie when I saw him manically waving from above.

We went to meet him at the gate. He hadn't been worried about the skydive, in fact I'm not sure I've ever seen him really worry about anything. He is a logical, calm, laid back chap, and always has been. But as he pulled his sweaty head out of his helmet, he admitted that it had been a terrifying experience.
I was proud of him for doing the skydive, there's no way I would ever dare to do something like that, and I'm really proud that he raised money for such an important - and underfunded - cause.
There's still time to donate, if you so wish.

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