19th June 2017
One week ago I did a tandem skydive in York, near Perth in Western Australia to raise money for Kidney Research UK because I am sick of Laura Brant’s kidneys misbehaving. It makes her very poorly and that makes me very sad. I am all the way on the other side of the world and my arms aren’t long enough to give her a big cuddle right now so the least I can do is plummet 14 000 ft from an aircraft and ask people to sponsor me for it.
I made my own T-shirt for the event because I couldn’t get an official one sent to me in time. I used a pen that I found under my bed in the hostel (I’m just a poor backpacker trying to make ends meet) for the design and it’s much more pink than the official Kidney Research UK logo but I think it looks good anyway. I still have it but I think it has got some sweat on it now and the pen will come off if I put it in the wash so I’m not sure what to do.
I was apprehensive when I first committed to the skydive because I once did a bungee jump off Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa and I hated the feeling even more than when you open the biscuit tin at your nan’s house to reveal her button collection and none of them are even shaped like cars or pterodactyls but then numerous travellers reassured me it wouldn’t feel much like a bungee jump at all so even though this transpired to be treacherous advise, I was comforted with this knowledge until the event. In hindsight, I’m not even sure how credible these sources were; I don’t recall any of them having stated that they had actually participated in both skydiving and bungee jumping to justify their comparison.
I was surprised when I arrived at what looked like a caravan site but then I was taken into a building equipped with skydiving facilities and I’d also noted the airfield next to us so I figured that I must have been in the right place. On the other side of the building were some palm trees and a swimming pool in case you wanted to go swimming for some reason so that was nice.
Other than the name of the town, I possessed no knowledge of the location until I arrived because I wasn’t really listening to the travel agent when I booked the skydive so the outback drop zone was a nice surprise, as opposed to the presumed beach drop zone. I’ve already seen lots of beaches and I’d have been raging if I’d been met with a birds-eye view of couples writing scientifically defiant instructions like “dream with your heart” into the sand (I will do no such thing. Pump blood around your body with your brain before you make such a foolish suggestion) so I was relieved to have eliminated that potential.
I poured a nice cup of tea down my oesophagus and then off we flew in the jolly yellow aeroplane; up, up, up into the sky. I appreciated the view for a brief moment but the further we ascended, the more I just wanted to vomit all over the pleasant little aircraft. The instructor attached himself to my back and then, along with a man in black, we all fell out of the door and all of my previous fears were validated.
It felt exactly like a bungee jump. I hated it so much. We were falling so fast that my face resembled a Sphynx cat with a facelift. I couldn’t breath and my ears hurt from the pressure.
Once I’d caught my breath back, however, I did manage to appreciate the scene before the parachutes had been deployed where the man in black appeared in front of me with animated motion, grinning. We were in a video game where we had collaborated on a mission to retrieve a great big diamond that had been stolen from our royal friends. We’d just escaped from the enemy castle in the sky and he was grinning so much at our success and because we’d even recovered some loot that wasn’t part of the mission.
I also enjoyed the part after I had returned to real life where the parachute had been deployed and we had decreased to a comprehensible speed and I could see the Avon Valley and Wheatbelt region expanding as we approached the ground.
I was welcomed to the ground by multiple staff members enthusiastically enquiring about my experience. It was apparent to me throughout that the instructor had been endeavouring to engage in a series of structured generic enthusiastic skydive conversations with me but to no avail which is evident in the video (viewable at www.facebook.com/lauratulipblogsit if you’re interested).
To conclude: I find the concept of free falling magical but in reality, I despise the feeling of falling at terminal velocity and I can’t comprehend how anyone enjoys it. I actually found it physically painful but don’t be discouraged by my account; I’m the only person I’ve ever met who didn’t enjoy their skydive (or bungee jump). There were the aforementioned aspects of the skydive that I’m grateful to have experienced but I will peel the skin off my own face before I do another one.
Although the event has already taken place, it is still possible to sponsor me via the following link and I’d really appreciate it if you did (there is also a nice poem that I wrote for Laura on there): https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LauraAnnTulip
Donations would make me and Laura Brant very happy, along with all of the people and family and friends of the people who benefit from the services made possible by Kidney Research UK. Maths is not my strong point, what with all those numbers floating around in my mind, disappearing and replacing themselves with irrelevant numbers before I can even contemplate inviting another one into the equation but that’s mental arithmetic and I can tell you that there are approximately 3000 000 people in the UK with kidney disease so if we assume that the average family size is four, your donation would contribute to the happiness of 12 000 000 people and that’s only accounting for immediate family members. How about that? I’m sure you’ve heard it all before but even the smallest donations make a big difference because they all add up but I’m not telling you the total because I don’t have enough paper to write the sum down. Kidney disease is incurable but donations fund research and services to prolong and improve the quality of life for those who are suffering, including my dear friend who I treasure like a sister, Laura Ann Marie Brant. She is so special that we got matching tattoos just before I left so that we would be together forever.
If you’re feeling particularly decent and you’re not already a registered organ donor, you can register here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/
I registered myself when I was about 16, that’s how easy it; I couldn’t even book a dentist appointment when I was 16. No one needs their organs after they die, we’re not ancient Egyptians in 2600 BC. Let them go. If you’d willingly accept an organ transplant then please consider registering. If I was in charge, England would have the “deemed consent unless specifically opted out” scheme like Wales do. Power to Wales! England, sorry, you are demoted until you change your ways.