In real life we do not want to take risks.
How many risks do we really take in life? And how many choices do we have that involve risks?
We could argue that each time we drive a car we take risks. But self-preservation rules out really taking risks. We do not want to take risks.
But when we do take a risk we will remember it.
In my life I have only on two occasions taken risks that were death defying.
The first risk was taken when I was 18 and is almost a ritual of Australian youth. Of course it involved a motor car.
Even though my father was a conservative person, for some reason he fancied a more than usually powerful car. On New Year’s Day 1964 my father allowed me to drive his car to the Myrtleford Rodeo by myself. Along the way I picked up some mates. We met up with other people we knew at the rodeo. We all decided to go to a dance in Wangaratta that night. We drove in convoy from Myrtleford to Wangaratta.
Of course during the course of the trip we decided by osmosis to have a race. Three cars raced each other. Because I had the most powerful car I felt obliged to outrace the other two. I passed the other two only to be passed in turn by them. I had to pass them both again. This took me some time and I had to achieve a high speed to do so. When I finally passed both cars for the second time I came to my senses. I knew I was indulging in highly dangerous activity.
I have never done this again. I have been a careful driver.
But because of the activity on this night I gained somewhat of a reputation and was once or twice dared to do it again. When I refused I was sneered at in the usual Australian way. I have been ultra-careful ever since when driving.
The only other time I have taken a risk knowing it was life threatening was when I was living in Earls Court in London.
A work colleague invited me to a music and drinks get together at his flat. I got talking to his flatmate.
The dialogue went like this:-
Flatmate: Where do you live?
Me: Earls Court.
Flatmate: Whats the address?
Me: 75 Eardley Crescent.
Flatmate: Really! You are kidding. What floor?
Me; The third.
Flatmate: I know that flat. My brother used to live in that flat.
Me. What a coincidence. Where is your brother now? I have never heard you mention him.
Flatmate: I don’t mention him probably because he is dead. (Steve was a bit of a wit)
Me: Really. What happened?
Flatmate. He was killed trying to get in through the window of your flat when he was drunk. He didn’t have his key and was trying to open the lounge window. You know the one that looks out onto the Exhibition Building.
Me(Very interested). Wow what happened?
Flatmate. He came home drunk. Didn’t have his key and proceed to climb up the drainpipe to get to the top of the building next door. You know the gap between to window and the next building?
Flatmate: Yes well he slipped and fell. Apparently there was frost on the window sill. He was killed immediately.
Not a lot more could have been said. The musical party proceeded. We went on with our lives.
But of course the inevitable happened. On Good Friday 1970 I came home after a nice night at our local and to my horror discovered I had no key. It being Easter everyone else in the flat was away elsewhere for all of the long break. I was locked out.
But I knew that it was possible to get in through the lounge window. It was possible. Dangerous but possible. I think it helped that I was slightly drunk.
Of course I was very cool about it all. I would take it in steps. I would go slowly to lessen the danger.
It was surprisingly easy to go up the drain pipe. It was almost as if the footholds were put there for me. And yes there was quite a gap between the building I was on and our lounge room window. And the gap was three stories deep. But I didn’t look down too much. I concentrated on the window. I looked across the gap. I could almost touch the window. If I was to lean across I could hold onto the window frame. I made a bridge across with my body. I held on to the window sill. I put one hand under the window frame. The window opened easily. I tested if the window sill was frosty. I put my hands inside the flat. It felt warm and comforting. But I still had to get across a gap of about one metre.
This was running with scissors. It really was.
I took a risk and almost dived across into the window. It ended up being done very quickly. There was a cold spot as I passed over the gap. I ended up on the floor. As I said I was very cool about it. I carefully closed the window. I had a passing look at how far down the gap went.
I went to bed and slept the sleep of a relieved person. I had a nice Easter all by myself. It might have been this weekend I watched the very first Monty Python.
But I was changed forever. I had taken a big risk. I was not aloof about it. I had risked my life. The feeling stayed with me for some time.