“Do you want to come and play with my hot air balloon?” asked my friend Amy.
I will admit, this is the most exciting start to a telephone conversation I have had in absolutely ages. A hot air balloon? Who wouldn’t!
“Yes, yes I most definitely would!”
“Good, we sort of need a boy to work it all out. It’s only a toy one mind you.”
This was disappointing. I have been too old to play with toys for over a week now, and already it looked like I would be slipping back into my juvenile ways. I thought about her offer for a couple of seconds.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m in!”
A short while later both Amy and our friend TJ called for me at my house and we chatted as we walked towards Windsor Great Park where would launch the toy balloon. I learned that it had been a present, and that when inflated it measured 6 feet by 8 feet. Which is quite big for a toy. In fact, it was almost big enough to be considered something other than a toy, which meant my New Year’s Resolution to not play with toys was still intact.
“How do you inflate it?” I asked as we walked.
“Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t read the instructions. That’s why I asked you to come along.”
“Right. It’s just that… and I’m guessing here… it will need a source of hot air, or something to blow it up at the very least.”
“Perhaps you should have read the instructions then?” she helpfully concluded.
So I read the instructions. They informed me that I would indeed need a source of hot air, preferably a hair dryer or a fan heater. Neither of which we were likely to find in Windsor Great Park.
“You mean to tell me you didn’t open the box on Christmas Day to read the instructions or even look at it?”
“I didn’t get it for Christmas, I got it for my birthday.”
“Four years ago.”
What sort of person gets a toy for their birthday, and then doesn’t even look at it for four years? The revelation that we would need a hot air supply led to a swift about turn, and a realisation I would definitely not be playing with any toys that day.
“We could pop into Fat Jim’s and launch it in his back garden?” suggested Amy.
This was an excellent idea. His wife definitely had a hair dryer, and should the balloon cause any damage to neighbouring buildings or take down a plane bound for Heathrow, we would be practically blameless.
“I’m really not sure this a good idea.” argued Fat Jim twenty minutes later after we had rigged various cabling to a hair dryer at the bottom of his garden. “What if you damage a neighbouring building, or bring down a plane headed to Heathrow?”
“As if that is going to happen.” I replied, reassuringly.
As the hair dryer whirred into action, and the balloon began to fill with hot air, we all became excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.
“I wonder how high it will go?”
“Do you think it will fly over the house?”
“Do you think we could attach something to it, like a cat?”
The time for lift off was upon us, and we released the balloon!
Up, UP UP! into the sky it roared. After just thirty seconds it was almost as high as our heads. A minute later it had reached the level of the garden fence towards which it was ominously drifting. Then, one gust of wind later, it collapsed into next doors garden.
“That was a bit shit, wasn’t it?” we all agreed.
The moral of this story is that if you make a new years resolution not play with toys any more, and someone tempts you with a toy just days after making this resolution, be strong. Because the toy will be shit and you will have a hell of a time getting it out of Fat Jim’s next door neighbours garden.