As featured in J’Aime magazine. Sep 2018.
by Jack Regan. Titan Copywriter.
I AM ABOUT TO DIE. I’m certain of that and of that alone.
Probably not from the shattering impact of a 250ft fall, but almost certainly from catastrophic shame and humiliation. Be assured, this will not be a hero’s death. No mournful obits, no flags at half whatsit.
To be fair, this is not how I’d imagined my morning ending. I’d had the highest of hopes for this, my very first ever abseil. And from Birmingham’s tallest building* no less.
In my head I was going to swagger through the entire experience, doing this stunt with two very glamorous ladies, raising funds for Emmaus UK, a brilliant charity that’s helping homeless people- so, y’know, carpe diem etc
I’d had the most devilish self image too- Man From Milk Tray cool with slick hair, polo neck, incredibly tight jeans and an insatiable mistress in every port.
I’d envisioned myself majestic, all in black, whizzing down the wall in the style of elite troops storming embassies, y’know, chomping a cigar, wolfish grin- I was, quite literally, gonna go commando.
And it had all seemed so positive and realistic in those great moments going up to the roof too. So awash with hope and possibilities.
But then reality set in like a thunderclap from the gods.
Twenty one storeys up atop the Snow Hill Holiday Inn I decided I’d take a nonchalant peek over the side. A wretched mistake, I’ll admit.
For the instant I did so the blood drained from my face like a flushing toilet. Heart hammering in my chest.
I stood there, ashen faced, terrified, gargling incoherently, shaking, my nerve totally gone. This was… I just had no contingency for terror.
So, desperately trying to regain my cool, I asked the climbing expert guy how far up we were. He nodded, “Don’t worry about landing with a splat, son, it’s so bloody far to the bottom you’ll die of starvation first !”
Which did not help !
Then he started with the strapping and ropes and harnesses and trussing me up and pinning in my unmentionables and pinching and teasing and… good God ! The Marquess de Sade himself would’ve been blushing like a wee schoolgirl with all this bondage and self inflicted agony !
But much worse was to come..
After a few instructions the climbing dude had me and my glamour girl mate, Donna, clamber clumsily onto the ledge high above Birmingham and I’m on the verge of vomiting with fear. Then he tells us to simultaneously push ourselves off…
Which is when I had an epiphany. A soft voice inside me said, Don’t worry, mate, it’ll be fine. Just push off, hard as you can.
Which somehow settled me down. I immediately felt exquisitely calm. Serene. I decided, what the hell, dude, just do it. Just do it for the homeless ! And so I did.
I thrust myself off that roof with proper abandon, pushing my backside mightily into the air with a force few men could ever muster… and… and I immediately rrrripped the arse of my jeans wide open to the world !
I mean this was a freakish tear. The entire garment split in half. The Full Monty of rips. Two hundred feet up, suspended by a daft rope and I’m experiencing a unique new level of mortifying full exposure.
Now, let me take you back a few paragraphs to what must’ve seemed like a throwaway line. The bit where I said I was gonna go commando. Okay, so I wasn’t actually joking, you see. I genuinely had gone full commando and was now going full frontal. And full rear admiral too.
On the plus side, I wasn’t so ashen faced now.
Of course you panic. Who wouldn’t ? My glam mate Donna’s shouting over, asking about a tearing noise ? I mutter incoherently, my mind racing- how to hell to now stay ahead of her descent so she can’t see my shortcomings ?
Panic and shame utterly broil inside me as Donna is clearly about to overtake me- a disaster from which few friendships could recover.
So I try to abseil faster, my feet on the hotel’s windows, but I know if I make big strides down that “everything” will fall out of what’s left of my jeans and I cannot adjust “anything” because I’m 175 feet up, gripping this bloody rope for grim death !
So I do the best I can and keep my feet very close together and start, quite literally, mincing my way down a building, my face utterly aflame with shame.
Now, to be clear, this isn’t a situation where, were you look closely you could see what’s going on. This is a man on obvious display to the world. And a manhood !
A fact verified by the dozen overjoyed builders up on the scaffolds of the 3 Snow Hill construction tower immediately across the street. The builders, bless ’em, offered their raucous “encouragement” to me all the way down !
Don’t even ask me about the double deckers on the street below. Don’t ask !
What followed were three agonising minutes of breathtaking humiliation and shame .
But, despite it all, I managed to stay those few crucial yards ahead of Donna and reached the bottom first, furiously tore off my constraints before scampering desperately to the sanctuary of a nearby portaloo
Where I’m still sat now, sweating, stammering and waiting till my mum arrives to rescue me with a fresh pair of trousers.
*Yes, yes, we know there’s a taller building in Birmingham now but, before you write in, think about how cool that’ll make you feel about yourself. Please.
Jack Regan is a creative at Titan. The Advertising Agency in Birmingham.