The superhuman has been in danger of becoming tediously quotidian: every day someone else is bungee-jumping off a rickety Mexican bridge into a river full of crocodiles.
THE SUPERHUMAN HAS been in danger of becoming tediously quotidian: every day someone else is bungee-jumping off a rickety Mexican bridge into a river full of crocodiles. We should not forget that these activities are still hazardous, even as high-end tour operators offer treks across the Antarctic, so increased numbers do not necessarily mean decreased difficulty. The question we need to ask is why people are undertaking them.
Spear’s is full of good examples of derring-do. On page 118, James Suenson-Taylor finds himself halfway up Everest, his lungs about to give out, having abandoned a comfortable life in Surrey to take an extended gap year with his wife. Much closer to home, Spear’s own Freddy Barker also provided us with a notable photo: Freddy about to go over the top of Broadgate Tower, ready to abseil down, greeting office workers on his way. Finally, we also have adrenalin sports in our Sports Index: how to get involved with wing-walking, aerobatics, skydiving.
From our articles, we can see a variety of motives: James felt that he had missed out on such opportunities while he and his wife raised a family and that, since 50 is the new 30, the time was right. Freddy was taking part in order to raise awareness of London’s Air Ambulance charity and to beat his own fear of heights.
There is clearly no one motive, then. One thing we would suggest, however, is that daredevilry flourishes in an economic climate which is at best anaemic, at worst oppressive. We stare at an unpromising horizon: low growth, stultifying government debt, entrepreneurialism flourishing only patchily, society rotting as the poorest are abandoned and the wealthiest are isolated. Given all this, who wouldn’t want to feel alive for a moment by putting their life at (semi-)risk?
Perhaps once our economic gloom passes and our society starts to repair itself into some sort of harmonious whole, we might feel so satisfied with our daily lives that throwing yourself off a bridge or a building or a plane may seem needlessly extravagant and unappreciative. Perhaps. But that day is a long way off, if it’s coming at all, and so danger will continue to be our escape.