Hanggliding Over Volcanoes


About four months ago, I gave one of my old friends a floppy disc, one of those archaic, flimsy ways to transfer data from the last century. He vanished back to the depths of Kent with it, I flew back to Singapore and didn’t hear another word from him for months. That made me sad.

We’d been through a lot together. There was the time we went riding our bikes in Folkestone and he warned me about a big hole I shouldn’t ride into, and then I crashed ten yards short of the hole and left a testicle-shaped dent in my bicycle frame. (That was before having two kids. I am Ironballs Foreman, hear me roar, etc.)

Then there was the time we rode a tandem around a forest for twelve hours, and I needed three months physiotherapy to recover.

Or the time one Christmas where he made me fall off my bike and on my head, and I went to see the Nutcracker while suffering from concussion. That was a very mellow Christmas, as I remember.

Come to think of it, every time the two of us rode bicycles, something bad seemed to happen to me.

But this floppy disc held maybe the last copy of my first novel, Hanggliding Over Volcanoes. I say “novel”, it was more like 145,000 words amassed into some semblance of sentences, with no particular ploy, purpose or rigorous characterisation. There’s quite a good joke, I think, about bedside confessions and accidents on building sites, deep in the innards of the story, but I’m a bit wary to go looking for it. Either I’ll discover I wasn’t the giant of literature I assumed I was at 18, or I’ll be so aghast that I kept my literary genius under a 3.5” bushel for so long that I’ll be filled with chagrin at my wasted potential.

That, and there’s 145,000 words to read through. I can now do this, via the wonders of the internet, as my bicycling nemesis has managed through a selection of cardboard tubes, aluminium foil and strong to upload the whole sorry story to Dropbox, where I can access it from anywhere in the world. Technology is great. I wonder if this is something I should have preserved or not. If I find anything in my excavations to be proud of, I’ll write back and ask for help.


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