Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Ever since I was little, I've loved bouncing. Spacehoppers, pogo-sticks, any toys that made you bounce, I wanted, and one birthday I did get a spacehopper and I played with it until the rubber wore away and it lost an ear.
But more than that, I adored* trampolines and bouncy castles. As soon as a funfair came along, I'd be first in line for the inflatables, and as to the trampoline, I was asked if I wanted to be in the school team but declined when I heard how much training was involved. I only liked to bounce for fun - not competition.
But all too soon I grew too big to be allowed on the kiddy-sized castles and would glare at small children as they played about to their hearts content while I was relegated to just watching. I did get a few chances to play though, such as when I was working in a nursery school summer club, and one child refused to go on unless I accompanied her, and the time a huge bouncy castle was installed in the garden of the pub I was running in Surrey. For 'Health & Safety's sake, I got up way before the pub opened to test it.
Two hours I was out there bouncing. A giant bouncy, all to myself... Nirvana...
Anyway, this story is about the time a funfair came to Ealing, and to my absolute joy, there was a bouncy 'Space lab', and it was for grown-ups only!
I got together with some friends at the earliest opportunity, and off we all went to the fair.
Of course, we had to stop at the pub on the way there to take a last chance to use a decent loo and of course have a couple of drinkies while we were there, just to be polite like.
We scampered about the place getting on as many of the rides as possible before I found the 'Space lab'.
"We have to get in there!" I squealed, jumping up and down in anticipation, and so we got our tickets, took off our shoes, and in we went.
I had great fun. I did some somersaults and back flips and so, and managed to get my friends to try doing the same, and we were all having tremendous fun until a gang of blokes joined the fun. They'd obviously spent rather more time in the pub than we had, so we gave them as wide a birth as possible, as they mainly bounced off the walls and fell over.
I went back to my bouncing, and had done a backwards somersault followed by a flip, which got noticed by the largest bloke in the group.
"I reckon I can do that!" he shouted to his mates.
"Wa's at? they replied as they hadn't seen me.
"'Ere love, they missed what you just did" the geezer said to me, "Can you show them?"
I obliged, and the rest of the chaps said things along the lines of 'You'd never be able to do that in a month of Sundays' to the bloke.
Saying such things did not deter his optimism and exuberance one iota, and with a flourish, and a swig at a bottle of whiskey from his coat pocket, he told everybody to stand back.
My friends and I thought this most prudent advice, and we went and stood by the exit as the chap began to bounce.
There was no skill involved with his bouncing, more the sheer size of his bulk aiding his momentum, but to my surprise he did start to bounce quite high.
Up and down and up and down he went as he prepared to somersault.
Unfortunately, just as he reached the apex of one bounce, the friend of his standing closest to him threw up.
Threw up right where the large bloke was going to land.
Large bloke didn't notice as he was concentrating on attempting a somersault.
Large bloke landed in a pool of lager and what I think might have been regurgitated hot dog.
Large bloke slipped, but the momentum he'd built up carried him on bouncing.
By the second landing the poor sod was pretty much covered in vomit and at last he realized what had happened.
With a scream, he tried to get away from the puddle, and as he was still bouncing pretty fast, he did so. Right into the rest of the chaps standing there watching him.
The geezer of the dodgy stomach vomited again as about 18 stone of vomit covered man landed on him. The rest of the gang as one, tried to move away but seemed to have forgotten they were still on a bouncy castle, and that running was rather more difficult than normal.
Two of the men managed to bounce into each other head on, which added blood from a broken nose to ever increasing pools of liquid on the rubber floor.
My friends and I got the fuck out of the Space lab as quick as our paws could carry us.
Just as the last of us escaped, the poor sod in charge of the bouncy saw what was going on.
Knowing that unless he acted quickly, he was going to be in for a hard, and not at all pleasant job of cleaning the place up, so he zipped up the exit and called the rozzers.
We stayed until they turned up.
I have never seen anything as funny as half a dozen uniformed police officers trying desperately not to fall over on a bouncy castle while arresting a group of vomit and blood covered drunks.
If only digital cameras and YouTube had been invented back then. I'd have made a fortune.

*And still do.